It was beautiful

finding beauty By September 7, 2017 23 Comments
When I was nine years old my mom took me shopping for new shoes. Mine were worn out and too small and it was time for a new pair. As we entered our local Payless shoe store, I spotted a pair of emerald green flats and fell in love. These shoes were going to change my life.
“Please mom?” I asked.
“They’re not very practical.” She answered. “Do you promise you’ll wear them?”
“I promise.” I said
We drove home and I skipped into the house thrilled with my new green shoes. I could hardly believe I owned something so beautiful. They were mine, all mine.
I wore them even though they gave me blisters. I wore them when the color scuffed off around the toes. Eventually they wore out completely.  No matter how tightly I tried to hold on, their beauty faded.
I felt a little sad when we cleaned out my closet and bagged them up along with other too small or not needed items. But soon something else caught my eye.
A couple weeks later, my friend Marie invited me to her house to play.  When she opened her bedroom door I saw a four poster bed with a white ruffle canopy. I had never seen anything so fancy.  It was so beautiful I could hardly stand it.
It is the first time I remember feeling jealous.
I wanted that bed to be mine. But I matter how much I begged and pleaded, I knew my parents would never buy my a four poster bed with a ruffle canopy.
The green shoes wouldn’t be the last time I would try to own beauty and hold it tightly.
Marie’s four poster bed with a ruffle canopy wouldn’t be the last time a would feel jealousy and longing.
As I became an adult I still craved beauty. When Steve and I were engaged I was sure i could find something–incredible wedding photos or the perfect couch or the right lipstick–to satisfy my craving. For a short time I would enjoy these things but their beauty faded. Nothing seemed to keep that jealous ache away for long.
When I was 38 weeks pregnant, we learned something was wrong with our baby. I was quickly admitted to the hospital and two days later, Steve and I held our first son, David.  He was 4 lbs, 2 oz and had only had two fingers on his left hand. We were told he had a rare genetic disorder called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome This wasn’t the baby I dreamed about. The beautiful life I had planned was slipping through my fingers. I imagined years filled with doctor visits and wheelchairs and feeding tubes. We loved David dearly, but in those first days, I couldn’t imagine beauty as part of our story. The pain of losing the baby we expected combined with navigating David’s physical needs was almost unbearable.
I was fully aware for the first time in my life that I was not in control. I began to understand I had never been in control.
I worried a lot less about finding the right lipstick and spent that energy taking care of our new baby.
I wasn’t as concerned about having the perfect home. Instead I focused on rare quiet moments with my husband while our baby was sleeping.
When David was ten weeks old he smiled for the first time. His smile was like glue healing the cracks in my broken heart.
It was beautiful.
When he was three months old he laughed for the first time. It was a rolling giggle and it was the most incredible sound we had ever heard. Steve and I looked at each other with unbridled joy.
It was beautiful.
When David was eighteen months old, his brother Matthias was born. We were relieved to meet our healthy, happy baby. Matthias balanced out our family. He was exactly what we needed.
Steve and I had two boys.
They were beautiful.
We bought our first house and filled it with thrifted furniture we sanded and painted.
It was beautiful.
Money was tight those first years. We paid our bills every month but had little left over for fun.
Sometimes we would splurge and go to Dairy Queen for chili cheese dogs. I treasure those memories with the four of us sitting in the booth at DQ.
It was beautiful.
During a particularly difficult financial time, someone from our church slipped $500 into Steve’s briefcase. We were in shock. To this day we have no idea who gave us that money.
It was one of the most humbling gifts we ever received.
It was beautiful.
Last week I stood on the beach staring at the glittering ocean waves. I let the salty ocean air fill my lungs. My heart was happy.
It was beautiful.
There is beauty in a hot cup of coffee.
There is beauty in sitting with a friend and sharing our hearts.
There is beauty in sunlight coming through the window.
There is beauty in slowing down to rest.
There is beauty in an impromptu dinner with friends.
There is beauty when my arms are tired from holding my boys.
There is beauty in the emptiness of loss, because loss means I have loved.
There is beauty in the dark places–where we least expect to find it. I have found on the hardest days, beauty shows up in real and miraculous ways.
The tighter I try to hold onto beauty, the more it slips through my fingers.
When I look to my outward beauty, my home and material things to fill me I become frustrated.
Beauty cannot be owned or possessed.
Beauty comes to me when I open my eyes and open my heart.
Beauty comes to me when I stop trying to control things and let them be what they are–messy and amazing.
There is nothing wrong with green shoes or four poster beds with a ruffle canopy. There is nothing wrong with a new couch or the perfect shade of lipstick. These things are beautiful gifts–ours to enjoy for a while. But the little things; a smile, a tiny giggle, an anonymous gift, a small hand in mine, the ocean waves, the sun warming my shoulders, these are the most beautiful gifts of all.
I want to hold beauty with open hands. I want to remind myself although I cannot own it, there is no shortage of beauty. It’s impossible to run out of beauty because the God of the Universe has filled his creation with beautiful things. He gives us gifts to enjoy, to soak up and to share with others. There is an endless supply of beauty around me. My arms and my heart are full.
In fact, this very moment, right now, is beautiful.
Share:

All Is Well

the meaning behind the jewelry, thoughts By July 31, 2017 107 Comments
About 30 minutes after our plane took off for England, David started having rapid breathing. We gave him his inhaler–which helped a bit, but we watched him closely and worried throughout the 10 hour flight. After we landed we took him to the emergency room in London. It ends up he had pneumonia–thankfully we caught it early. Everyone at the hospital was wonderful. They sent us home with meds and within a day David was back to himself.
I am a worrier.
I worry about David’s health.
I worry about my boys’ safety.
I worry when I’m a passenger in a car.
I worry about what others think of me.
I worry if I give my boys enough love and attention.
I worry about my marriage.
I worry I’m letting people down.
And on and on and on.
And my worry never helps me or anyone else–not one single bit.

I wrote this poem on a walk in the English countryside and I wanted to share it with you–because maybe you’re a worrier like me. I hope it encourages you.


All Is Well

Stress and worry
Have helped me not
My joy they’ve taken
This moment forgot

My thoughts bundled up
In fear of unknowns
My mind distracted

My present disowned

Detached from what is
I guess what may be
I imagine the worst

Dark and doom I see

Instead of the light
That always surrounds me
I am safe and secure

God loves me profoundly

My path is before me
God planned every part
Before my first step

From the end to the start

Life’s mysteries to me
Are by God fully known
I am His child

He cares for His own

When sorrow takes hold
And the light seems so dim
His grace and love find me

My hope is in Him

When the pain of this world
Crowds in to oppress
My God gently holds me

And shows me His rest

My worries don’t help me
I’m beginning to find
They wreck and they ravage
I am free, I can breathe
Nothing can alter
The path I am walking

My God will not falter

Today I will practice
Letting go of control
I am held by God’s hand

All is well with my soul

I will learn to be still
And quiet the fear
Today is a gift

My God holds me near

Share:

I Believe in Magic

finding love, soul connection By May 16, 2017 3 Comments

Magic is… how our souls found one another.

Magic is… the way our hearts stretch to hold an unimaginable BIG LOVE.

Magic is… your HUG, which takes my pain away.

Magic is… the way we each LIGHT UP when we see each other.

Magic is… how your hand fits perfectly in mine.

Magic is… seeing BEAUTY grow where pain was planted.

Magic is… stepping with you into the unknown, and finding ourselves right where we are meant to be.

Magic is…. the unshakable love we share.

Magic is….knowing you are my answered prayer.

Some don’t believe in magic.

Yet when I look around, I see…

Magic happens every day.

It’s happening to me!

Share:

How to Spell L O V E

be brave, finding love By February 21, 2017 1 Comment


First we need an L.
L is for learning.
Life is a series of Lessons teaching us about LOVE.
As we Listen and Learn, LOVE brings Lasting beauty that fiLLs our hearts.

Next comes the O.
O is for Overflowing.
When we come with Open hearts and Open hands we show LOVE to Ourselves and Others.
LOVE withOut fear Overflows with grace and hOpe.

V is Very important
Because V stands for Valiant.
True LOVE is an adVenture requiring courage.
Only the braVe see the Value of risking their hearts.

Finish off with an E for elastic.
LOVE stretches and grows to Encompass Everyone on Earth.
LOVE is Essential for a healthy heart.
It Enables us to know we are Enough, just as we are.


Share:

Nothing is Something

finding love, worthiness By February 9, 2017 20 Comments


Doing nothing is not nothing.

Doing nothing is doing something.

Sometimes doing nothing is the doing hardest thing.

Because in doing nothing, in the quiet, in the emptiness, I cannot escape my thoughts.

In doing nothing I am faced with the good and the hard, the ugly and the beautiful,

The ache

The hope

The fear

The longing.

Many times I find myself doing something

Doing anything

To keep from feeling

What feels too hard to feel.

Many times I find myself doing something

Doing anything

To prove I am productive

To prove I am good enough.

To prove I am worth the space I occupy.

To prove I am worth loving.

I am doing better at doing nothing,

Doing better at believing I have nothing to prove.

I am enough.

The space I occupy matters.

In doing nothing I find something.

In doing nothing I find there is nothing

I can do to be more loved

Than I am right now.

Doing nothing is not nothing.

Doing nothing is doing something.

Sometimes doing nothing is the hardest thing.

Share:

Stepping Into the Light

finding love, the meaning behind, worthiness By February 7, 2017 3 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.

Share:

buzz buzz

finding love, worthiness By January 5, 2017 5 Comments


Thoughts like bumblebees fly around my head.
Buzz buzz buzz
So many thoughts

Some thoughts buzz by and I hardly notice them.

Some thoughts are scary.
The scary thoughts buzz and buzz.
I try to run but they chase me.

I stop running and face the scary thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them.
The scary thoughts keep pestering me.
“No.” they say.
We are not true.
Their buzzing gets quieter.

Some thoughts are mean.
The mean thoughts sting. Ouch.
I try to run but they chase me.

I stop running and face the mean thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them.
The mean thoughts keep pestering me.
“No.” they say.
We are not true.
Their buzzing gets quieter.

Some thoughts are happy.
The happy thoughts are as sweet as honey.
I do not run from them.

I turn and face the happy thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them
The happy thoughts keep buzzing.
“Yes.” They say.
We are true.
I take these thoughts into my heart.

I am the keeper of my thoughts.
My thoughts do not keep me.
The happy thoughts make a home inside my heart.
After time they grow and become a deep knowing.

You are unique.
You are amazing.
You are enough.
Just as you are.

Buzz buzz buzz
My heart knows it is loved.

Share:

I’m Not a Writer

thoughts By December 20, 2016 14 Comments


I’ve written over 2,000 posts on my blog. But I’m not writer.

I’ve been writing for (in)courage for years alongside amazing women—many of who have published books. But I always felt a little out of place because I’m not a writer.

I love to read, I cherish deep conversations with a trusted friend, I connect with others when I share my heart through written words, but I’m not a writer.

I’ve told myself for a long time, “I don’t care about writing. Writing is part of what I do, but I’m not a writer.”

The thought of writing a book felt overwhelming. How would I even begin such a massive project? So instead I’ve shared my heart through photos and short blog posts and heartfelt paragraphs.

And I’ve been fine with that. Mostly.

For the last year I’ve been working with an executive coach and it’s been life changing. I wanted to know how to make my business better. I hoped to focus my time and energy on things I’m passionate about and remove distractions from my life. I wanted to uncover my life purpose.

He started by having me complete a couple inventories to understand my values and strengths. What emerged, to my surprise, is word; both written and spoken, is very important to me.

“That’s strange”, I thought, “because I’m not a writer.”

Or am I?

I love written words. I love story telling. I’m passionate about being honest and vulnerable. This community has been a place where I connect and grow. We’ve journeyed together, sometimes in person, but most often through written words.

“What if I am a writer?” I thought.

I felt a spark of hope in my heart and a turning in my stomach. The thought both thrilled and terrified me.

What if deep down I want to write but I’ve been afraid to admit it to myself? What if I’m not pursuing the thing I’m most passionate about because I’m scared?

“I want to write.” I allowed the words to move through my brain and settle on my shoulders.

“I want to ask my heart what it wants to say and share it with others. I want to connect on a heart level through written words.”

I’ve told myself so many negative messages over the years.

For years I told myself I wasn’t a good dancer, but I learned to dance. In fact, my husband and I fell in love during swing dance classes.

I told myself I wasn’t athletic, but as an adult I’ve learned to love hiking and my body is strong.

I’ve told myself I wasn’t good at parallel parking but I think I’ve finally mastered it.

What if my negative messages are simply away to assuage my fears?

Oh my gosh, what if I’m a writer?

I’ve begun making space for quiet. I’ve begun setting aside time to write. As soon as I slowed down to do these things words started coming and coming fast. So I put them down on paper—even though I was scared. When I went back and read over my words I knew, yes, this is what my heart wanted to say. I published my thoughts, my feelings, my heart on my blog even though I had a lump in my throat.

And you read my words and encouraged me. You left comments to share your own story, your own heart. Thank you.

As I’m making time for quiet and making space for writing, I can feel this what I’m meant to do. I’m growing and learning as I write. I’m beginning to dip my toes into deeper waters, wondering if I could write a book some day.

I’m learning what it looks like to live with honesty and bravery.

I’m finding courage even in my fear.

I’m beginning to believe I’m a writer.

What if the thing you fear most is what truly matters most to your heart?

Is there a negative message you’ve been telling yourself?  Share the first thing that comes to mind. Let’s dream big together!

Share:

love makes the world go round

finding love By December 3, 2016 7 Comments

love-makes-the-world-go-round-lisa-leonard-01-2

Mother Love is as cozy as a blanket and as fierce as a grizzly.
It sounds like the sweetest lullaby at bedtime.
It feels tender, a heart no longer beating for itself.
It looks fragile, easily torn apart.
But resilient, healing itself to become stronger than before.

Friendship love is sincere and open.
It sounds like long talks and shared secrets.
It feels like cool water on a hot summer’s day.
It looks like a soul stretched and grown over time.
It rests in being accepted just as it is.

Romantic Love is wild and free.
It feels like the wind rushing through the trees.
It sounds like shouts of joy.
It looks like learning to navigate a windy, rocky path.
If it sustains its rough edges are worn away leaving smoothness and strength.

Self Love is a deep breath and a deep knowing.
It sounds like a quiet night sky with sparkling stars.
It feels like a good night’s sleep and a warm cup of coffee.
It looks peaceful, calm and undemanding.
It smiles to itself, confident it was created to be unique and rare.

love-makes-the-world-go-round-lisa-leonard

Family Love is beautiful and messy.
It feels like the shade of a sturdy tree.
It sounds like laughter and bickering.
It looks like honesty; revealing both sides of the heart–light and dark.
In the place of being known it finds firm ground and safety.

All of this love flows from the same source.
It bends and stretches through every heart connecting each of us.
This connection creates a force so strong it moves the earth.
Love, in its many forms, makes the world go round.

Share:

one open heart

choose joy, finding love By November 29, 2016 106 Comments

I am learning one open heart can change the world.

On a sunny Sunday morning last year, we arrived at church a few minutes early. David slowly climbed the steps, one at a time, while holding my hand. Once inside he pulled away from me, wanting to explore the sanctuary before the service began. I set down my bag and followed closely behind him. I had no idea what was about to happen.

19210196-e75d-4469-8dda-afd269e7c3fa

David lives life inside a body that doesn’t cooperate. Because of his disability, he is very small, has only two fingers on his left hand and is non-verbal. David can’t speak with words but he has much to say. He communicates through gestures, physical touch and heart connection. As he moved around the room he ran his hand over the smooth wood of the church pew, weaving in and out of the narrow space. Then he crossed the aisle and made his way over to a woman sitting by herself. She was in her late thirties, had a kind face and a gentle presence.

We’d never met but that didn’t stop David from approaching her. As he got closer, the woman looked up and smiled at him. Once beside her, David turned around and backed up to her—it’s his way of asking to be held.

“He wants to sit on your lap.” I explained. “He can sit next to you if you prefer.”

“No,” she said, “I’d love to hold him.” She carefully lifted him onto her lap.

He tenderly wrapped his arms around her neck and laid his head against her shoulder.

“Is this okay?” I asked, anxious to be considerate of her space “Would you like me to move him?”

She looked up at me with tears in her eyes.

“My mom was diagnosed with cancer a couple days ago.” she said in a quiet voice. “I just needed a hug so badly. He knew exactly what I needed.”

I bent down beside them and touched her knee softly as she and David embraced. It was a holy moment of connection that soothed a hurting heart.

In that moment he gave her love, changing her world.

So often I rush around, trying to take care of people, trying to serve, trying to be good enough, trying to prove myself.

David doesn’t worry about these things. He is present in the moment. He is fully himself, unconcerned with what others think.

David’s simple act of love brought hope and beauty to this woman’s day.

He saw her and without pause met her exactly where she was.

It wasn’t accidental.

It wasn’t complicated.

It was David’s open heart that created a beautiful connection.

Maybe it’s not only grand, heroic actions that change the world.

Maybe it’s the quiet moments, when, in humility and brokenness we meet each other right where we are.

We offer hope and love.

We are present to witness another person’s pain and offer soothing grace.


one-open-heart-lisa-leonard

When we stop rushing, stop trying, stop proving, we can be fully present in the moment.

We can be fully ourselves and open our hearts to each other.

David is showing me one open heart can change the world.

Share: