Lisa Leonard Designs

Archive for the ‘finding love’ Category

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. 

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.

*brand new* nativity set! {love}

October 14th | finding love, inspiration

OH MY GOSH!

Friends, I have been working on this project for a year! It’s been such a labor of love. I started it as a gift for my nieces and nephews. I wanted them to have a keepsake to treasure year after year that reflects the true heart of Christmas.

As it started coming together, I knew I had to share it with YOU as well!

Our brand new nativity includes 15 hand-molded pieces and a stable made from California Oak wine barrels and a story book with the Christmas story.

Molding baby Jesus was a truly humbling thing. How can one capture something so meaningful, life changing, world changing and hope-filled?

There are three wisemen, a shepherd and six hand-crafted animals. The pieces range from 1/2″-2″ each. Precious.

Each nativity includes a story book that tells the Christmas story and has questions to help kids {and adults} understand the meaning of the nativity.

Joy has come to the world!

Today we are offering a very limited edition nativity with a few very special features.

*Baby Jesus is finished in gold
*Marking from California Oak wine barrel are visible
*Bottom of stable is signed and numbered by me

Growing up, the nativity was part of our Christmas celebration every year. After we went to sleep on Christmas eve, my parents would place Baby Jesus in the manger and we would wake up to find him there. We read Luke 2 together and talked about the gift that Jesus gave us on Christmas.

Do you have a nativity tradition to share?

Click here to see the new nativity set! {There are only 100 limited edition sets, so don’t wait!}

a brother’s words…

March 1st | family, finding love

Matthias is ten years old and David is eleven. Matthias is the younger brother, but because his older brother was born with special needs, he functions as the big brother. At school, he was given a writing assignment to share thoughts on someone he cares deeply about. He chose his brother, David. His teacher shared the essay with us at our parent/teacher conference and I was, of course, tearing up at his sweet words and insights. Can I share it with you?

a brother's words lisa leonard-02-2

My Brother, David
By Matthias Leonard, age 10

A person I have strong feelings about is my brother. His name is David Stephen Leonard. The reasons I have very strong feelings about him is because he has a birth disease called Cornelia de Lange Syndrome.He has two fingers on one hand and five on the other.

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

I’m so glad you’re you.

February 4th | david, finding love

for david…

I’m so glad you’re not like I expected you to be.

I’m so glad you have your own passions and hobbies.

I’m so glad you came along and turned everything upside down.

I’m so glad you aren’t perfect. I’m not either.

I’m so glad you changed my idea of what’s beautiful.

I’m so glad you showed me how to be a mom.

I’m so glad you love to be silly.

I’m so glad you’re you.

Because you are truly amazing.

unexpected blessings

December 31st | an everyday moment, finding love

I always imagined myself with little girls. When I got pregnant with David, I was disappointed to find out I was having a boy. Then with my second pregnancy, I hoped for a girl again, and Matthias came along.

Of course, when David was born, his disability was a shock. And although it brings it’s own challenges, it has made me kinder, softer and taught me so much. I wouldn’t have asked for that, but I’m thankful for David and the beauty he brings to every day.

These pictures serve to remind me that i have no idea what I want. These boys are the best! I couldn’t ask for more.

I didn’t ask for this, and yet, I find myself overwhelmed by my blessings. As we approach a new year, I don’t know what God has in store, but I want to have an open heart to the gifts he gives. Sometimes I don’t know what to ask for, but He knows what I need.

What unexpected blessings are you thankful for today?

life lessons from david

November 22nd | david, finding beauty, finding love

David is eleven and a half years old. Sometimes I have to stop and absorb that–it seems like just yesterday he came into our lives and turned everything upside down {and made life BETTER}. When he arrived I felt broken to bits, but as we regrouped and healed, I began to grow and learn. He’s taught me about what’s important and what’s not. He lives life with passion–and I want to be like that, too.

But lately, I don’t know, it’s like he’s growing and changing and doing new things every day. He’ll walk up and take my hand and lead me to the front door–letting me know that he’s ready to go out for an adventure. Or he’ll climb up on the couch next to me and lay his head on my shoulder–completely melting my heart. When I arrive to pick him up from school, a huge smile takes over his face and he throws his arms around my neck. At dinner, he pushes away the spoon if it’s food he doesn’t want and pushes my hand toward the food he does want. He’s able to communicate his preferences and initiate affection–and with each step of growth it’s like a window into his soul. I know him better and I understand him more. It deepens our connection and it makes my heart want to explode

Here are some life lessons David’s been teaching me lately.

1. Give kisses. Lots and lots of kisses {over and over}

2. Take baths whenever you want. Take multiple bathes a day. If you’re dirty, sad, your tummy hurts or if you just need a good soak–go hop in the tub.

3. Hold hands whenever possible.

4. Eat your favorite foods every day–especially vanilla yogurt.

5. Smile at strangers

6. Music heals the soul and should be played as loud as possible all hours of the day and night.

7. Always keep a cozy blanket nearby

8. Don’t hold a grudge. It’s not worth it.

9. Jump in puddles and dig in the dirt.

10. Soak up THIS moment and don’t worry about tomorrow.

Oh friends, just writing this list is making me tear up. I want to live more simply and soak up the moment. I want to be happy and not grumpy. Are you learning any life lessons lately?

 

what is, is beautiful.

November 12th | david, finding love

I shared this post a couple years ago and this is still my heart today!

the other evening after tucking the boys into bed, steve came downstairs and said, ‘i just had the most surreal experience. i was telling david to lay down and kissing him good-night and as i looked at him i saw a nine year old boy–no disability. just david. it was like our souls had a connection.’

as soon as he described the interaction the tears began to roll down my cheeks. i knew exactly what he meant–there are times, small moments, when i see beyond david’s disability and into his soul. and i see a little boy stuck in a body that won’t cooperate with him. i see him wanting to speak words and unable to get them out. i see him wanting to tell me something, to ask for something or describe something but there is a chasm between us and it’s too wide to cross.

and sometimes in those moments i let myself dip my toe into the dark, scary pool of what if? what if david wasn’t born with a disability? what if he had ten fingers? what if he could munch on a hamburger and fries at mcdonald’s and begged to play just one more game on the ipad? what if he could imagine stories and tell me all about them and illustrate his ideas on leftover sheets of computer paper?

the truth about ‘what if?’ is, it doesn’t exist.

the truth is, i will never know ‘what if?’

the truth is, david was born with a disability. he has seven fingers instead of ten and he can’t speak words or express complex thoughts. he is a soul stuck in a broken body.

and the truth is, time spent thinking about ‘what if?’ is time wasted.

today i choose to focus on what is. today is a new day with joy waiting to be discovered. today is a new day with mercies waiting to be uncovered. today i am grateful for what is. grateful for an eleven year old who is healthy and silly. a little boy who is curious and loves to explore and learn new things. grateful for my sweet son who loves to cuddle and kiss and be tickled.

what is, is beautiful.

For David, for hope–go find our more about the ‘tied to my heart’ necklace here!

this is my story {new pieces to inspire}

November 5th | finding love, inspiration, jewelry

dear friends! we just introduced jewelry for the new holiday collection. this collection is really dear to my heart. every time we introduce a new collection it’s exciting, but this collection feels like it’s full to the brim with meaning and sentiment and beauty. i truly love each piece and i hope you will, too!

my new ‘inspiration necklace’ is simply that–full of inspiration. the tags are hand-molded and organic, and of course, hand-stamped with names that are dear to your heart. the colors are some of my favorites. and the chain length is awesome. i love this piece!

i’ve been wearing this necklace every day and it feels right. my boys names, next to my heart, the clink of the glass and stone beads, it all came together in this necklace and i want to wear it. it inspires me.

the love and laurel necklace speaks of honor the gift of love. perfect.

the magical moment necklace captures that special feeling when everything is just right.

the tried and true necklace speaks of lasting love even through difficult times.

all are oh, so pretty and simple and begging to be worn or given to someone special.

my story is about finding beauty where i didn’t expect to find it. when david was born i thought my life was over, but this tiny baby, with only two fingers on his left hand, a serious heart defect and so many other physical issues, came into my life and taught me how to love. he broke down walls of pride and replaced with with an openness to letting life be imperfect–and that’s where joy came in.

and then matthias came along 18 months later, and rocked our world again. i was so thankful that matthias was healthy, then i felt guilty for being relieved, like i was somehow being unfaithful to david. i worried i wouldn’t know how to love two boys with such different needs. i wanted to be the perfect mom but i was faced with my own brokenness. accepting that has become a huge part of my journey. we are broken, but there is beauty to be found. i am imperfect and flawed but i’m still loved. this journey is not what i had planned, but it’s so much fuller and brighter and lovely than i expected!

this is the heart of my new collection. go check out all the new pieces and tell me which one is your favorite!