Lisa Leonard Designs

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.

hello heart split in two

February 23rd | dominican republic, hello monday

Hello friends! We are back from the Dominican Republic, jet lagged and soaking up snuggles with our kiddos. I left a big part of my heart over there, but I am simultaneously so happy to be home. It’s crazy how our hearts can live in multiple places, don’t you think?

It’s a brand new week with beauty to be found. 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 waking up in my own bed. Love that.

Hello pancakes for breakfast. Our family favorite.

Hello lots and lots of cuddles on the couch and soft scratchies. We have catching up to do.

Hello editing pics from the DR. So much beauty–my heart can’t take it.

Hello missing Joely {our sponsored daughter}. She completely stole our hearts. More pics tomorrow!

Hello unpacking and catching up on laundry.

Hello packing lunches and planning dinners for the week.

Hello creating a new design for mother’s day. I love to create.

Hello photo shoot and new things to share. I can’t wait to show you!

Hello meetings and emails. So much to do. Always more it seems!

Hello crafting with Matthias. Fun!

Hello feeling THRILLED that 160 kids have been sponsored from our trip to the DR. You can see the count here!

Hello donating 10% of the proceeds from all sales this week to compassion international. So exciting!

Hello to you! It’s a brand new, beautiful week. What are you saying hello to this week? Leave some hellos in the comments section or link your own hello monday post there!

the beauty of the dominican republic

February 19th | adventures, dominican republic

I am surrounded by beauty.

the beauty of fresh fruit.

the beauty of a little girl’s smile.

the beauty of a cottage with gingerbread trim.

the beauty of eyes that sparkle.

the beauty of perfectly mismatched tiles.

the beauty of colorful clothes drying on a line.

the beauty of friendship.

the beauty of flowers growing past iron bars.

the beauty of twin sisters.

the beauty of a breeze that blows through the flag.

the beauty of a hillside with uncountable steps.

the beauty of a woman walking to work.

want to be part of something beautiful? consider sponsoring a child in the dominican republic. it will make all the difference in this child’s life.
{and the necklace pictured above, is a gift when you sponsor}

we fly home tomorrow night. i have more to share with you next week. i’m leaving part of my heart in the DR but i can’t wait to squeeze my beautiful boys!!!

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!

thrifted cream dress, gypsy soul necklace

February 11th | what I'm wearing

Hey friends! I found this little gem of a dress at a thrift store last week for $5. It made my whole day! It’s Wednesday and I’m linking up with Lindsey at The Pleated Poppy for some fashion inspiration.

I’ve been wanting a cream dress–just something simple and flowy. This one fits the bill!

I layered a long slip with the dress for a vintage feel.

The sweet bag is by Nena & Co. Love it!

On Monday, we shared the Gypsy Soul Necklace. Such a sweet piece. If you missed Monday’s special, you can find the necklace here. It’s very limited edition–so don’t wait!

Isn’t this necklace FUN? I love the adjustable leather–wear it super long or shorter.

Outfit details: Cream dress, vintage slip, both thrifted. Booties, Frye via Zappos. Jean Jacket, Gap. Bag, Nena&Co. Turquoise cuff, vintage. Gypsy Soul Necklace, My shop.

hello pain, hello joy

February 9th | hello monday

Lately it seems, everywhere I look there is pain. My heart hurts for friends who just want to bring their baby girl home from the hospital, friends who had a massive scare last week and thought their son had leukemia, friends who are on their way to UCLA for a long stay and other friends who said good-bye to a beloved dad and husband. And that’s just within the last week. So much heartache. We have ours. Those close to us seem to be suffering more than usual. You might be struggling too.

And I look around and I see beauty. I see blessings. I see actual, real-life joy. It seems impossible, but there it is. God is at work even in the muck and yuck. Today I don’t feel happy, but I still believe there is good. I believe there is beauty to be found. It’s a new week, 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 praying, more than I usually do. And that’s a good thing. It’s good to need God.

Hello giving myself permission to feel sad and not have it all together. It’s real.

Hello making dinner for friends and loving them while they are recovering from a rough season.

Hello working out. It’s good for me. I feel better when I’m done.

Hello creating and sketching. I have some fun things to share this week!

Hello packing for the Dominican Republic. Next week we’ll be there with Compassion International. I can’t wait to tell you more.

Hello hugging and cuddling and sipping chai lattes and doing things that comfort me.

Hello tidying up my desk at work. Um, it’s a train wreck!

Hello thrifting. I’m on the hunt for inspiration.

Hello to YOU. I hope you are feeling joyful and whole. It’s a new week, leave some hellos in the comments or link your own hello monday post there!