becoming a mother – journey for meaning by Lisa Leonard

this morning as i was getting ready, i started thinking about mother’s day. i  thought back to that very first day i became a mother. because david was born with a disability those days were dark and scary.  i was afraid. we were grieving and trying to make sense of our new world.

the day after david was born, one of the neonatologists gave us david’s diagnosis. the words came out in slow motion. the sounds were there but i couldn’t comprehend their meaning.

cornelia de lange syndrome.

severe retardation.

he won’t be able to eat.

he won’t speak, he won’t walk.

he’ll need life long care.

my heart felt ripped apart as the words buzzed around my head trying to make sense.

i wonder what would have happened if that same neonatologist, in some prophetic way, could have seen our future. what if he would have told me things like,

he’ll change your world in beautiful and amazing ways.

he’ll show you how to love more deeply than you can imagine.

his smile will light up a room.

he’ll wrap his arms around your neck and and work his way into your heart.

he will run and laugh and love life.

you will know his soul and he will know your soul.

could i have heard those words? could i have understood them? looking back, i think steve and i had to walk through sorrow and watch hope grow. we had to grieve and fall in love with david–for who he is and not for who we thought he would be. we had to journey, step by step, to understand the amazing gift that was placed in our arms that day.

david, i am so absolutely, undeniably grateful to be your mom. i love you sweet boy!

210 comments

  1. Growing up, our close family friends had a daughter with Cornelia de Lange. She’s now in her late 30s. I knew your son had same when I saw your family photo. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. God is the one that could make everything seem un-perfect perfect. Your boy is so beautiful and perfect and your story inspires me when dealing with tough situations in life. Thank you Lisa and praise the Lord!

  3. Your son is such a blessing! How inspirational. I can’t say that I “totally understand” your situation. But, I can share my story with you. My oldest daughter, Erica, has been blessed with three of the most gorgeous babies ever. Tristan, 5. my one & only grandson, was born with autism. He is in kindergarten this year at the elementary school where I work. Sophia, who is 1 1/2, was born with a severely clubbed foot. At 1 year, she had over 10 casts and 2 small surgeries. Then, she had the “big one”. The drs broke all of the bones in her foot, reshaped the tendons and muscles and fashioned an arch. You should see her run today! And my beautiful baby Kate. She was born with Downs Syndrome. She is deaf in one ear…and she’s only 8 months old. God had challenged us and will continue to do so. But, along with those challenges…He drops in a blessing here and there just to keep our hopes and dreams alive. And, I cherish every moment of our journey. Thanks for sharing yours with us. And thank you for the beautiful jewelry you make. You are an artist borne of challenge, love and a world full of awesome.

  4. I have a new client with Cornelia de Lange Sydrome. My client’s mom said it would be the first and last time I would ever see a child with this syndrome. The minute I saw a picture of your beautiful boy I knew it was Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. Thank you for shsring his….your story. It meant a lot to me!

  5. You give so many women strength and I just want to say your David is absolutely 100% perfectly beautiful in every way.

  6. Thank you for sharing your family’s story. My first granddaughter was born with a genetic disorder called 1p36. I remember being with my daughter when the doctor told her there was an anomaly with Addy. It was heart breaking and scarey for her and her husband and of course me. When she was born she stayed in the NICU for 3 months. She had surgery for a twisted bowel band a feeding tube was also placed. I watched my daughter and son in law give that little girl so much love even in the darkest of moments. She died at age 5 from RSV. She never learned to walk, talk, eat, or sit up. Our family learned a lot from that precious child. Bless you, your husband and son! ( And I love your jewelry line!)

  7. Enjoy your son. My son had disabilities and passed away, unexpectedly, at 15. I thought I would have him forever and I miss him daily. I often say that NO ONE hugs me and loves me the way he did. He struggled daily, but was always happy and loved everyone. He made all of us better people, in so many ways.

  8. I wish this Post could be on a Wall painted across Pediatrician offices, or Labor & Delivery and Post Partum areas in Hospitals. Lisa, you are not only a creator of beautiful jewelry but of beautiful and MEANINGFUL words. Thanks for sharing!

  9. My little brother Kevin who is now 46 years old has the same syndrome. He is the sweetest most special person I have ever known. You son looks exactly like him. You have a precious gift from God

  10. February 3, 2016 at 8:59 pm
    Lisa, I just stumbled on your page and saw your son David’s photo. I am interested in people’s stories with disabled loved ones. I come from a family with 2 siblings who are disabled. One with Muscular Dystrophy, who has passed from this earth free from his disability, and one with Autism. My sister, who is Autistic, lives in home in Abilene, Tx. The organization is Disablity Resources Incorportated, DRI or short. It is a wonderful place for folks with disabilities. I want to encourage you to look at their website and maybe one day go see it. It is privately funded, but still has to meet state “red tape” standards when running an organization as this. The folks at DRI are so happy and have been give a quality of life that family could not continue to do for them after the age of 21+. My sister has lived there for about 28 years. My parents live in San ANtonio and are in Abilene once a month to see her. I wanted to share this place with you to keep it in your prayers and let you know about it in case it would be needed in your future. Stay strong and in Christ. David is a happy boy, and blessed to have a loving family.
    Also to any others who are reading this and have special needs loved ones please look at their website http://www.driabilene.org and see what all they have to offer. I encourage you to go see DRI if ever in Abilene or close to the area.

    Also, Lisa, the sunburst caught my attention because it is the symbol DRI chose to use when they began about 30 years ago.
    God Bless America! And all those who care for special needs children.
    Karen

  11. I fell in love with your jewelry first then I read your story and am completely in love. You have a beautiful family and am so excited to see how God is working in your lives and touching so many people thru your story. May God continue to bring blessings to you and your sweet family.

  12. I have a friend who has a child with a disability and she also is not able to speak and has physical disabilities but she is the joy of their entire family. She brightens a room just by being in it just as David does. I enjoy seeing the pictures of him and your family. You and your family are an inspiration to all. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a child so I do value all children.
    David has a glow that shows even in photographs and everyone around him then seems to beam off of his shining smile. Blessings to you.
    I do anticipate ordering some jewelry and then I will have a daily reminder or how you and your family along with David have brought sunshine through a dark time.

  13. made me tear up and I am at work – getting caught for not working, but so worth it! What a beautiful sentiment and so heartfelt! He is beautiful and there is something about his innocence and pure joy that we all wish we could keep instilled in our children every day! You are blessed and he is blessed to have such wonderful, caring and thoughtful parents! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, bright story when all the news is always so dark.

  14. What an inspiring story!! My little sister also has CDLS, 18 years ago she was born and we didn’t find out for almost a year that she had it. It was so rare at the time, and still is. Becky has proven doctors wrong multiple times. I hope your beautiful boy does too!!

  15. When I was diagnosed with ataxic cerebral palsy, my parents were given the same speech. No walking, no talking, no feeding/caring for myself, stunted growth, etc, etc, etc. Well, I walk. Sometimes I need a cane, usually not. I talk. Especially when people want me to just shut up for at least 30 seconds! 😉 I feed myself. Probably too much! I’ve got 180 pounds beneath my skin to prove it. And cleaning? Not a problem. I enjoy not smelling horrible! I am also 5’3″ tall. Stunted growth? Right. Not a day goes by when I thinking of how lucky I am to have had parents willing to fight and sacrifice to make sure that I (and my big sister) got all the necessities of life! Don’t listen to pessimistic doctors! Keep fighting the good fight!

  16. I see your posts on Facebook and surfed into your blog and found the story about David. it is very touching and brought tears to my eyes. The Lord placed him into your care because He knew that you and your husband would be the right parents for David. May you be Blessed in years to come as you journey down this path.

  17. I am the MOM 3 always… 2 of my children live here with me and they believe that their ‘Big Brother Angel Jack’ is watching over them with every step they take. Jack was born with rare neurological disorder that was not known in his life into toddlerhood but as his Mom I fought for answers and reasons which were found and allowed his 2 siblings a better chance in life. They are now healthy and thriving ‘pre teens’ (oh God Help me!!!) So grateful for the life they have today but for many years it was filled with the “dark and unknown” the “may never” and “wait and sees”. It has been a long haul but one I would walk 100 times again to have the children I have been blessed with. Ironically I was on your site for a very different reason. Our children survived beautifully but unfortunately our relationship and marriage of over 20 years did not. I wear no ring now for the 1st time in my adult life. My finger that once contained a beautiful diamond “forever” is no longer the case and sits bare. I saw your mother ring and thought that will be my NEW forever that will never change and always survive. I selected all 3 birthstones of my children- Brenna, Connor, Angel Jack and my own. In a few weeks when it arrives I will wear it proudly to serve as a symbol of my forever. No matter what life brings in the future I will look down at the ring you are crafting for me and know that and be reminded of the most difficult and darkest journeys bring a better day if I put my mind and heart to it. Can’t wait to see my “FOREVER RING”

  18. In 1973 my Mom gave birth to what would be my youngest brother, his name was John David (Johnny), we all thought everything was fine with him. All was not, at less than 6 months old he had to have open heart surgery and had to have most of his small intestine removed. That’s when my parents got the news that he would probably die within a year…I’m happy to say the Doctor’s were WRONG! That sweet little boy never walked, talked, couldn’t see or hear, he was never able to eat ‘regular’ food, but let me tell you, the love we got from him was overwhelming sometimes! He smiled and laughed and made us do the same. He had 2 brothers and 4 sisters who would ‘fight’ over who got to feed him, bathe him and even put him to sleep. He is resting in peace with my Mom and Dad now where, I’m sure he is running, talking, can see and hear and I can’t wait until we meet again. Oh the joy that little boy brought to us can never be put into words and I could never thank God enough for sending him to us exactly the way he was, what an amazing gift he was. Treasure your David (as I’m sure you do) every single day, thank you for sharing your story.

  19. My cousins little boy has the same thing. He is amazing, with a very similar smile! Thank you for sharing your story!

  20. He looks like a super fun little guy to be around! I see the pictures and his smile DOES light up a room, what a beautiful story and awesome journey to be on. Blessings Lisa! 🙂

  21. All children deserve the love of parents, and David is blessed to have you. your words, about him, and parenting a child who’s truly special, are uplifting, and heartfelt, and WONDERFUL!

  22. I came across your website while on my Facebook page and decided to read David’s story. Like everyone else that read it I was touched by your story. I believe that every child is born perfect.God has a plan for David. He has already touched so many lives.I have always believed that God does not give us more than we can handle. You are obviously a STRONG woman and God knew even before David was born, that he would be loved and welcomed as your son.I also believe that every child born with a PULSE has a PURPOSE. I pray that God continues to bless you and your beautiful family.

  23. Your article touched my heart, and David’s story made my purchase of your sunburst ring with diamond for my daughter’s 45th birthday even more meaningful. You see, she has three intellectually-disabled younger brothers (42, and twins 40) ~ Fragile-X Syndrome, and she has often had to take a back seat to their needs over many years. So this beautiful oldest daughter-child deserved something very special, and your ring filled the bill! Since she had posted on her fb page how much she loved it, I KNEW that was going to be her 45th birthday present!! And to all of you who are parenting children with disabilities, take heart and grab hold of hope! It usually DOES get better (as with David!). . . There are many resources today that help intellectually (and/or physically) disabled kids achieve at a higher level than previously thought possible. Love is a powerful tool to help accelerate their learning and accomplishments. My sons have grown into wonderful, relatively high-functioning adults, living semi-independently in Group Homes. And my daughter has grown into a lovely, compassionate, and loving woman! And I . . . . I love them all!!!

    1. Anna, I have a cousin who has a child with Fragile -X Syndrome. He is now 15 and semi-functional. I had never heard of that syndrome until he was born. Special needs children are special people in God’s eyes.

  24. I saw one of your rings on Facebook and as I was looking at your jewelry I saw your CDL necklace. My brother Kevin has CDL. He is 45 years old He is blessing to our family and has brought us so much joy. My mom and dad still care for him and they are 82 and 84. The doctors told them to put him in an institution when he was born and forget about him. They didn’t and have never looked back I truly believe you and my mom were chosen to be the moms of such special sweet boys. God bless you and your beautiful family.

    1. LeeAnn That is so cool! I hope we can care for David that long–amazing. Sending you a big hug. So thankful to know people who are part of the CDLS family. xx

  25. As a mother as well, this really touched my heart. Bless you and your family as this amazing, God given journey continues for you and your family!
    Barb

  26. I had a dear friend with CDL syndrome. She passed away several years ago but she was incredibly precious. She didn’t speak except for some sign language, but you always knew what she wanted or how she felt about something. Each day with her was a gift and I miss her terribly.

    Enjoy your time with David and thank you for sharing your heart.

  27. Love your post. Glad I stumbled upon, gives me more courage to face the reality, after my little boy has been diagnosed with ASD. After reading your post, I just felt as if those are all my words flowing throurgh your pen. God bless you and your sweet family.

  28. 32 years ago I received a similar diagnose for my sweet baby Ryan. I too felt my perfect dream crumble before my eyes with words like retarded, a vegetable, early death. That doctor did not know my son nor our family. Ry has taught us more about love, laughter, compassion and the pure love of Christ in 32 years than I could ever learn or experience in a life time. My Ry Guy sends his love to your sweet David.
    You go mama!

  29. I recently became a mother 5 months ago and your story has truly touched me. I never could quite comprehend the love I would feel for my little munchkin until I held him in my arms for the first time. I now know what ‘the love of a mother’ is all about. There is nothing quite like it. Your little one is so precious and beautiful. He has a heart of gold.

  30. Hi Lisa! I live in Switzerland and my daughter Adèle was born on the 11th July 2013…with a Cornelia de Lange syndrome. About the same predictions were told to me in her first days, but I just feel the same as you! My daughter (she’s my 3rd baby 🙂 is just a bundle of joy and love. Could not imagine to live a single day without her. She is my sunshine and I love her to bits!

  31. Thank you for sharing your story, David is such a precious child and obviously is very happy and loving. My daughter, that I left a comment about, has a special place in her heart for children. She has practically raised herself two little boys, both autistic, because their mothers can’t deal with them and she took them in and gives them the love they need and what they give back to her is a gift she treasures. I am definitely going to give her your website so she can meet David by hearing about him from you. So don’t be surprised if she writes you to thank you making her necklace and also to read your story. David is so blessed to be born into such a special loving family as yours. God bless David, and what a strong name he has. David from the Bible was so loved by God more than anyone besides Jesus His son. Love, Linda

  32. My daughter sent me your website after I admired a bracelet she was wearing. (I just purchased one for myself.) After reading this blog, I am SO very glad she did. I, too, have a disabled child. She is severely brain damaged and lives life in a wheelchair, does not speak, but her smile lights up the room. We were told she would not live past 10, she’ll turn 32 this January. She has had some very difficult challenges and we’ve nearly lost her a few times, but she keeps smiling. Enjoy every precious moment!

  33. I am so glad I came across your post. They initially thought my little guy had cornelia de lange syndrome. We did genetic testing and it turns out he has 12q14 microdeletion. His deletion is the only one in the world. It has been such a trial but I also now see only the good in this little miracle that was brought into my life. He is the sweetest soul and makes me smile so much. Thank you for putting into words exactly how I feel.

  34. I just found your blog and this post hit me straight in the heart. I have a severely disabled daughter and heard these same words and she is so much more than her diagnosis. She turns 18 next week. She is non verbal, wheelchair bound, fed with a feeding tube and more importantly has the most amazing smile and giggle and gives the best hugs!

    1. I love this Abby! Thank you for sharing your heart and journey. There is so much beauty when souls connect. xo

  35. I’ve seen your son’s pictures on IG and he just struck me over and over. His little face and smile were so familiar. I used to work in a home for SN adults and one sweet lady had CDL syndrome. I see David was born with it too. She was a joy to work with, a real darling. Like her, David’s face shines with a sweetness that melts the heart. I have a SN son but our road isn’t as bumpy. Best wishes to you and your family.

  36. Doctors can be so harsh. I had a similar experience. You may be interested in watching this 15 minute movie. It is on the Gliding Stars facebook page. (It may be Gliding Stars of Findlay.) The film crew followed the family of a boy with autism in our skating program. Gliding Stars is a group of 50 + special needs children and adults that learn how to ice skate with the help of volunteers. At the end of the season they have an ice show. It’s awesome to see their faces light up on the ice. It will touch your heart. Enjoy.

  37. Lisa, I ordered your “Tied to my heart” necklace and had my children’s names placed on it (Matthew, Kevin and Kelsey). I too have a CdLS child (Matthew). My Matthew was born Oct. 10th 1990 and he was mine and my husband’s first child. We had no idea that Matthew would be born with this syndrome and for the first few days of his life , no doctor could tell us what actually had happened. We were told Matthew would never walk, talk, or have a social smile. He would never know who we were and all this was IF he made it to his first birthday. Well, here we are 23 years later, Matthew is the light of my life and in many aspects he has been my savior. I never, ever imagined that I could love this much.

  38. Dear Lisa; Both your boys are beautiful. David just shines with joy and his smile beautiful. I also have a son with a disability, his is autism. I know there are hard days and times when you worry about your childs future. Hold on to the love, keep faith and keep on smiling.

  39. You touched my life today and made me a better person. I love you all and don’t even know you. God is real, infinite and eternal.
    Thank you, Diana

  40. God’s love for this child expressed through you and your husband. He’s a very, very blessed child to have parents like you. God has truly blessed you all.

  41. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for sharing. Sending hugs to you and your beautiful family as I shed happy tears:)! God bless you much much:)!!!

  42. Dear Lisa,
    I just read David’s story and it brought back so many memories of my first grandson, Jeremy. He was born with a sever form o Spina Bifida … his spinal opening was just below his lungs. He was totally paralyzed from the mid-chest down as well as a shunt in his head. My daughter was told not to have surgery to do the shunt and close the spine, just to let him die. Of course, to a Christian, that was not an option. To make a long story short, Jeremy lived for 5 years, and was one of the greatest blessings of our life. He taught us as much as a human can learn about unconditional love. He taught us that even though your body may not be perfect, you can overcome almost any difficulty. He loved everyone, was kind to everyone and everyone who knew him loved him. God bless you for your decision to stay at home with him. I wish you great success with your business. In Him matchless love, Doris

  43. Lisa,

    I found you via a podcast with Tsh. I loved reading your journey with your son. I 100% agree with you about the Doctor’s delivery about the diagnosis of your son. My son has Autism and they way the DR. delivered the news was so negative. I wish he would have said the a similar message as your said. My son has been such a blessing and opened my heart so much. I feel so blessed!

  44. When you post a picture of your son David, my son points to it and says Cole and my friends like the your posts when he is in it….so funny but I would even be fooled if I didn’t know better.

    1. I’m seeking some answers to things that play on my mind about what is going on with my Cole…Just found out he has a mild allergy to milk…Does David have any allergies?

  45. Thanks for sharing your story. I know it will give hope to those who are facing a journey like yours and are surrounded by the negativity of our world. God bless you and your sweet family!

  46. Thank you for Blessing my day. what a blessing,you and your family are. Our Precious Lord, knew what he was doing, when you sent your beautiful son.
    How do I sign up for your blogs.
    thank you.
    love and blessings, helemarie

  47. I always say everyone can find beauty if we look hard enough. There is so much both negative and positive around us. we just have to sort through it. I love learning about everyone’s story and seeing what wonderful qualities and talents people have to offer because of experiences that made them stronger. We just have to take the time to stop and appreciate what life has given us. Beautiful jewelry and beautiful family you have!

  48. There is so much love and beauty in David’s story. You can see how much he loves life in his precious smile! Thanks for sharing your (his) story and helping give hope where there is too much fear and despair.

  49. Thank you for sharing David’s story. Thank you for telling your story. We all experience pain. You tell the story of beauty in it all.

  50. I’ve been a fan of your jewelry for such a long time.. but this was the first time I read about David. What a beautiful story! A beautiful family! Thank you for sharing this wonderful boy ♥♥♥ ..melts my heart! -Tammy

  51. I read this with tears and my eyes and heard in my head what the neonatologist said to me almost 19 years ago. I was only 21 years old and in a fog for over a week after my son was born. It never sunk in and I told them they did not KNOW, they were not God, they were not my child, they did not know the strength of my family and the power of our prayers. I can still hear it…

    -he will be a vegetable
    -he will need lifetime care
    -his lifetime will be short
    -he will never walk or talk
    -he may need life support
    -he will never be normal

    They were wrong, so very wrong. My son, born at 28 weeks, weighing 900 grams is now almost 19 years old. He is a fully functioning, amazing, happy, intelligent, normal young adult. Normal. They never told us that could happen. We have had our ups and downs, the first 5 years had over 12 surgeries, he had a full shunt replacement at 10 years old for his hydrocephalus and he learns a little different than some.

    Thank you for sharing this story and for showing that special, wonderful children are given to amazing, wonderful parents. I would not trade one day of his life for anyone else’s “normal”.

  52. Hi Dearest,
    You found me today! Thank you for sharing your Mom moments. My heart swelled and my voice broke reading aloud to my husband.
    Thank you for walking thru the life that is planned for you by our Lord.
    Blessings to you all

  53. High Five and warm, understanding smiles to your comments regarding David’s influences on your world. From one CdLS mom to another.

  54. Hi Lisa!
    I was on the in(courage) blog this afternoon and I scrolled down to find your post from yesterday. I appreciate you sharing, and wanted to thank you and let you know that it has blessed others! I’m a sister to my younger sister who has CDLS. Rachael was the gift that we didn’t even know we needed! She continues to richly bless our lives. I had the privilege of passing on your blog for my mother to read today!
    Thankful to read your blog today!

  55. Lisa, you are inspiration. My son was born 6 months ago and we received a scary diagnosis when he was 9 days old. At the time, I was filled with a lot of fear and overwhelm. Six months later we are still on a path to figuring it all out, but everything is so much brighter. The light of our smiling boy outshines his diagnosis every single day.

    1. Ayah thank you for your kind words. I agree about the light outshining the diagnosis! xxoo

  56. Lisa –
    Thank you for your lovely blog, It’s given me such inspiration. I also have two sons, close in age to yours. My youngest is medically fragile with an ugly diagnosis. Through the years I’ve became so wrapped up in my little one’s health that I lost myself. Your blog reminded me that I need to pursue my passions and not allow my son’s health to absorb all of me. I started an Etsy store and blog to give myself a place to share my love for vintage fashion. Thank you for opening your heart to us. Please know that though your challenges, you are inspiring other mommies to find themselves.

  57. I have to tell you I appreciate you sharing. We had something similar happen to us in 2012. My first born son was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 and passed away at 32 weeks. We chose to to give him life 🙂 His one year birthday would have been today 🙂 I love seeing your pictures with your kids. I honestly like to imagine had he survived we would be iike you guys. God bless you guys and i dont think todays blog isn’t a coinsidence.

  58. Lisa, I have admired your blog, your family photos, and your website store/jewelry, etc for awhile. I did not realize the story of your son. But even more now, I admire your recognition that both your sons are a gift, and have taught you things beyond measure. I hope you know that not everyone could have that attitude, and not everyone could recognize the beauty in both your children. They are blessed, you are blessed, and the world is blessed by your family, your values, and your ability to communicate such a beautiful life to others.

  59. Love him for who he was and not who you thought he would be….. Now that is exactly what I needed to read today for my two girls who both have special needs. WOW

  60. Hi Lisa,

    Oddly I came to your website looking for handstamped charms that I loved and could add to my website that is soon to launch called http://www.sophies-styles.com.

    But I think the Lord wanted me to stop by for another reason. My sight is named after my daughter Sophie who suffers from Infantile Spasms. A relatively rare form of epilepsy that is quite catastrophic. Then upon reading your blog I noticed your cutie son and his diagnosis being Cornelai De lange. I have never known another with that diagnosis except for my sister. It is as you would know another relatively rare, spontaneous mutation, that occurs in utero with no rhyme or reason. There were just so many coincidences here I just had to stop by offer you my applause for what you are doing as a mom and educator and let you know I am here to support you or chat if you would ever like. The above website is the Christian nonprofit we created after my daughter was misdiagnosed for 6 mos that led to the severity of her delays. I had to channel all that emotion and put is somewhere and WHALA!!
    Take care and God bless!
    Holly Rickman

    1. Wow, Holly–those are some crazy conincidences. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Off to check out your blog. xo

  61. I came to your blog for the jewelery (gorgeous) but have just sat reading through so many beautiful posts. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. The love each member of your family has for each other is inspiring. I look forward to continuing to keep up with your blog. Thank you again 🙂

  62. I know you from your wonderful jewlery, but I did not know that you were a mother and it sounds like you do a pretty wonderful job at that as well. Thanks for sharing.

  63. lisa,
    I was encouraged to come check out your blog/website from the V and Co giveaway, and while I would be incredibly blessed to be chosen for your $50 gift card, I feel like I am already blessed to have found your site. You are an amazingly beautiful young woman who has taken both her difficulties and her God given talents to create beautiful, meaningful items. I pray God’s blessings and strength for you and your beautiful family. Thank you for sharing your life and making mine (and many others) richer.

  64. Lisa, First I want to say that I love your designs and will continue to buy from you because I feel like there is sentimental value in each piece that cannot be found in any store. Second, and more importantly, I have been working as a Qualified Support Professional working with adults with Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities since graduating from college 5 years ago. I love that you are bringing an awareness to MR and DD and that you are proudly supporting and openly loving your son while highlighting his ABILITIES. I know that the road is not easy, but God never gives us more than we can handle and he knows which mommies deserve Angel babies like David.

  65. Oh my goodness. Its 2:30 am and I have tears just streaming down my face! I found your blog via {LMM} and I am so happy! I am excited to go back and read older posts as well as new ones as they come up! Thanks for the uplifting tears! I’m a brand new mom and I love more than anything hearing/reading other mother’s love for their children! Thank you!

  66. This is my first time on your blog and I am SO grateful I read this today. I can see his wonderful spirit through these pictures and his beautiful smile! Thank you so much for sharing…. <3 this!

  67. You guys had to fall through fire to come out and see what life and David had to offer you! And now, you would never have it any other way, would you? This is how it works for us sometimes, but the results can be amazing and such a lesson that not everyone can understand! By being who he is, you view life in a different way – grateful, happy, seeing it’s wonder and so many other ways that cannot be counted.

    You will have an amazing mother’s day!

  68. Lisa, my cousin has autism and will always struggle in life. She is almost 12 now and is in a class for students with disabilities and will also likely always need some form of care. A few months back I was speaking with a friend who has two grandchildren with disabilities and he referred me to a short essay called “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley. It conveys in the best sense I’ve seen the wonder and joy (but also hesitation and even a sense of loss) experienced by parents with disabilities. You can read it here: http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html

  69. I love this statement because I think it applies to all moms and children….to love our children for who they ARE, and not who we thought they WOULD BE! Oh to rest in that God has created them uniquely and wonderfully.

    ……we had and fall in love with david–for who he is and not for who we thought he would be. we had to journey, step by step, to understand the amazing gift that was placed in our arms that day………..

  70. Wow Lisa, what a wonderful mother YOU are! Your post brought tears to my eyes. Seeing David’s infectious smile made me smile right back. Like someone posted above, all your jewelry is so unique so personal because YOU are unique and special and want people to cherish moments. I’m so glad my friend Lisa introduced me to you, your site. I’m wearing the necklace that I put grateful on. I’m so grateful for a lot of things/family!
    Grateful i found this site

  71. I felt the love in your words and my eyes watered reading your dedication to your sweet son, David.

    May the Lord continue to use your family to strengthen others walking that path.

  72. He is beautiful. It looks from some of the pictures and posts that he has defied some odds…can you tell the rest of the story sometime? I will pray for you and your sweet family.

  73. Lisa, not only are you gifted artistically you also have an incredible gift in writing which is so evident when you move someone to tears as you do in the writings that you share with us. I am also a mom to a disabled son and I am also so grateful that God gave my husband and I our precious son. We have learned so much from him and it’s an honor but we also went through a grieving process and it took time before we understood that God has a perfect plan and makes no mistakes. May the Lord give you and your family strength and peace and a wonderful life together! God bless you!!

  74. such a beautiful mom you are… your story and words remind me so much of one of my most favorite and most beautiful books ever written… Blue Sky July by Nia Wynn. if you haven’t read it yet… you must. : ) happy mothers day.

  75. Oh Lisa, I love this story. Isn’t our God awesome? He uses our grief and sorrow, our darkest moments to bring us closer to him so his full glory can be revealed! How awesome is He!

    Psalm 18:28 NIV
    You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

  76. Very beautiful Lisa. My youngest is the happiest most positive kid ever, considering every thing that he has to do every single day. He just got done doing 28 days of inhaled antibiotics 3 times a day which added like 82 more treatments for him than normal. But he always kept a smile on his face. Then in June he will have a entire day tests to be done on him and all he can think about is stopping at the mall on the way home. We are so blessed that our special kids are just happy campers most of the time. Ben has cystic fibrosis and I pray every day that he will grow to be a sweet old man with out major issues. But this disease is a progressive disease and so very unpredictable. But we are so blessed and so very greatful for each funfilled day that we have. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your family. Hugs.

  77. What wisdom- we should all love our children (or really everyone God puts in our lives) for who they are and not what we think they will be/should be.

  78. you had to “watch hope grow”. i love that. i love your perspective on life, and the words you use to paint that picture. you are an artist in every sense of the word. your sweet david is amazing! he is so lucky to have a mama like you. 🙂

  79. Hey Lisa,
    I wish all doctors could follow these little babies to see what they become becuase I think more often than not hope would be offered instead of just a cold and sterile diagnosis. I too have a child with special needs and she is much more than a medical term and much more than her outside body presents. She is a total package that much like your David inspires me and teaches me everyday. 🙂

  80. This is so beautiful and brought tears to my eyes…they are still coming out. I believe we are all faced with uncertainty in life but it’s the way we handle these uncertainties that allow us to grow and see what can be..

  81. You are truely an amazing mom! Thank you for sharing you story, and daily life with such a sweet family!

  82. Amazing words so eloquently put…so often as parents we mourn for the loss of our dreams for our children, not realizing that they are not on this earth to satisfy our needs, but rather their own. My first born son died after being born at 23 weeks, he was on this earth in body for just 2 short weeks, but he is in my heart and mind forever. I so appreciate what you live every day, as I experienced it for 2 weeks. Neonatologists are amazing people and they do hard work, but sometimes they forget that our children are not a statistic and that they need to choose their words more carefully and gently.

  83. That is the epitomy of what it means to be a mother. Your normal is something other than what you dreamed … but it says a lot about you and your husband that you love and appreciate your new normal.

  84. I was crying when i read this. you are such a great and strong family. i wish you the best with your family and thanks for this emotional post. Hope you will have a wonderful motherday!

  85. You teach me to be a more understanding mom. Thank you for sharing your life. God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.

  86. lisa – we are blessed to be able to learn from you and your fmaily. thank YOU for sharing. and i KNOW that God blesses you each day.

  87. What a way to start the week. Amazing stuff…thank you for sharing it with us. If only all of the children in the world could be loved like this…..

  88. What can I say that hasn’t been said?

    Your love story is inspiring and encouraging. May you and yours continue to be blessed as you so sweetly bless us.

  89. Lisa, your son has a beautful smile because of the love you have for him.
    I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and am going through chemo. My 23 year old daughter and two of her friends are doing the Avon walk in my honor. It is a huge undertsking-major fundraising and walking 43 miles! I am so proud of all of them. I wanted to get them something special so I just ordered your “word of the year” with faith as the word. I know they will love it! I ordered one for myself too! Keep the faith!

  90. Thank you, Lisa. I apprecaite your honesty and your heart. In times of trials I don’t know if we can always understand our circumstances and why. What you’ve shared is that you had joy in your future that you had no idea was waiting for you. Makes me think of Ephesians 3:20. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

  91. Such beautiful words. I think it would be nice if, along with the very realities of a disability, doctors would utter these other words of love also…

  92. I remember first coming here (2 years ago?) and reading about David’s birth. I loved the way you were so real about your feelings. And to see how your family has grown through it all is amazing. Walking through it has given you an inspiring perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  93. Thank you!! I came home tonight from feeling like I was ready to hand in my “MOM” card…because we’ve been having a rough time with our 5 year old. Your blog reminds me of the sweet moments I also felt becoming a mom. I had wished for what seemed a lifetime to be blessed with a child. It took a failed marriage and a new love for that blessing. But being a mom, isn’t always easy, in fact, the days events can leave you feeling very drained and inadequate, empty and sad..especially when the events have been so hard. Then that sweet smile comes shining through, or that beautiful voice calls out “mommy” and you begin to count your blessings and realize you’re the luckiest person alive. May we all be present enough in each moment to remember these events and focus less on the others. So Thank You Lisa…your family and your creativity is an inspiration!!

  94. this is such a touching post. I love it! You inspire all of us moms to look at our children as who they are, not what we want them to be 🙂

  95. One of my best friends is walking a similar path.. Her young daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and like you and your husband, this adoring parents had to face welcoming their sweet daughter with a long list of scary prospects. Little G. will be turning 2 soon and we pray every day that, like David, she grows to defeat the odds and not only a cure is found for her debilitating disease, but she may live a full and happy life.. I pray for my friends to one day look back into the sorrowful and dark first years and be grateful for the lessons their little CF baby will teach them.. mostly how precious her life is, as David’s, and how capable of teaching true love they are… Hugs!

  96. I know just the mom who needs to read these encouraging and truthful words today! Your thoughts are beautifully expressed. Thank you.

    There is a wonderful book called The Power of the Powerless. It’s about a little boy who was different physically from his siblings – yet despite this, he was able to open many doors for them because of the love they all shared.

  97. Beautifully said…I especially like the part where you said
    you had to learn to love him for who he was..not for what you had hoped he would be…..because I think we all need to remember that when it comes to our children!

  98. Lisa, your post is so beautiful! You are very special and an inspiration to me. Everyday I can’t wait to hear what you have to say, see what you and your beautiful family have done and look at your amazing pictures. I also love your jewelry! Thank you so much for being you and for me finding you (your website), it has been a blessing!
    All my best!:)

  99. HI Lisa,

    this made me cry – for MANY reasons – good tears, grateful tears, hopeful tears, and some sad ones too – only because of my own circumstances – while my journey and life is not the same as yours, i am appreciating this post more than you know, its giving me perspective and reminding me to walk things out and have faith and hope – once we are through them we gain so much understanding!

    you are a treasure Lisa Leonard!
    xoTiffany

  100. Reading your post really touched my heart. You are a very strong woman and may God bless you and your beautiful family. I hope you have a memorable Mother’s Day, as you do deserve the best Lisa!

  101. These thoughts so eloquent and pure, as our children with special needs. One thing to add to what the doctor missed: You will know heaven on earth and David will know love more powerful than anyone. Both of you have been gifted with the privilege of each other. God bless!

  102. I love how you changed the doctor’s words around…what if we all looked at the positive, wonderful things that come out of grief and difficult times. Your words brought happy tears to my eyes! David was meant to be your boy!

  103. such a sweet post. we were told the same things about our daughter. being born extremely premature (24 weeks gestation) and having lots of surgeries and sickness during her 4 month stay in the NICU we were devastated. she is going to be 7 on saturday! she is the sweetest thing ever and i love her so very much. i still have my moments of why her, and long for her to run and play like ‘normal’ kids, but there is so much more to life and one day when we get to heaven she will run with the best of them and be completely healed! i am thankful for that. i am thankful that god entrusted us with her life. i am thankful for her giggles and her smiles and her sweet outlook on life!

  104. I have a special needs daughter who is now approaching her 24th birthday. She has been an absolute delight, and is such an essential part of our family. Everyone loves her. She is capable, in her own way, and very bright too. I can’t imagine life without her. She has enriched our lives in more ways than I can list. She’s perfectly imperfect… but aren’t we all, in our own ways.
    I love what you have written about David, as it echos my own heart.
    You’re amazing Lisa!

  105. Amen to the MAX! I am the Mom to a babe they are saying the SAME things about!!! My heart was and still is broken (she is 9 mo old), but she has taught me that I can do ANYTHING. She has taught me that I married the perfect man to be the perfect Daddy to a being that not many parents could accept and love. Love is Love and that is all there is to it. How lucky your boy is to have parents like you who know that! Love your blog! Love your goodies. Thanks for sharing.
    Erin
    P.S. You can read about Lunden on her blog, http://www.lundenlou.com/blog.

  106. Oh Lisa…so beautifully written…we have a special needs daughter so I totally “get it”…the joy from being her mother and learning from her daily is immense.

    Kelly

  107. Amen! That is beautiful. Being the mother of a disabled son, I couldn’t have said it better. I heard the words spoken by my son’s birthmother as to what she did while she was pregnant with my son but I think God put a veil over and hid it in the back of my mind until the day I needed an answer. By then we became our son’s #1 fans and #1 fightforers!

  108. Hi Lisa, what a beautiful post! It really made me feel how I wish I could have had children. The universe decided it wasn’t meant to be and basically I am okay with that.
    I am not in a very happy place right now, things just keep going wrong and I can’t seem to do anything right in my husband’s eyes. For me, I look at the plants I am rearing in my nursery and gardens and know that I am ”okay”. I so miss my smile right now! Hugs…

    1. hi philippa! just want to send you a hug. sometimes our circumstances can be so difficult and feel overwhelming. i see your joy for life and ability to find beauty in little things and i love that. sounds like your spirit is discouraged and i’m praying for your strength and courage. xoxo

      1. Lisa, thank you so much for your lovely words.. when I feel discouraged I will think of you and that will give me extra strength. Big hugs with love…xxx

  109. And if that same neonatologist could see David now. David is truly a blessing, but you and Steve are a blessing to him, too. God doesn’t make mistakes and He gave you to each other for a reason. He is a special little guy and I treasure those days at the office I could see your little miracle progress as he did. You made me cry again, Lisa. God bless you as you continue to love and nurture David and Matty.

  110. As David touched your souls, you also have touched mine. God bless all of you, especially David for showering you and your family with such priceless, unconditional gifts.

  111. My youngest is autistic and I feel the same way. He has been such an incredible blessing in my life and has taught me so much. He’s only three, so we’re still figuring out how to deal with family members who are a bit afraid to interact with him, or even to ask about him. Then there is the occasional stranger who offers me sympathy. Makes me so sad and frustrated. My son is amazing and I just wish there was a way for everyone to know that 😉 Thanks for this sweet and touching post!

    1. I am sad for the people/family memebers and your and my family that cannot embrace difference. We have the same thing happening in our family right now regarding our daughter. She is different and different isnt bad. Hang in there!!! Hope you didnt mind me posting on your comment! 🙂

  112. My heart hears your heart. My little guy just turned five but he spent his first month in the NICU. He has a chronic disease that makes our journey different from those around us and we heard some hard statements from medical staff that overwhelmed our hearts. After three months we heard from another doctor…whatever they told you before, forget it. they don’t know what they are talking about. We have challenges and tears and “those days” but we also have laughter and joy and hope. And sometimes I wish I could find all of the initial medical staff we worked with and say…see, isn’t he amazing? and you never know exactly how this journey will play out. hooray for who they are…right now, today.

  113. Thank you for sharing. I believe families are meant for each other, and I am grateful there are so many wonderful, loving, caring people who get to share their lives with amazing David’s.

  114. Lisa, I believe that you are able to see all those beautiful moments because of the wonderful woman and mother you are. As much as you were blessed with David, he was just as blessed with you, Steve, and Matty. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing.

  115. This is beyond beautiful and touching. I thought you were an inspiration as a teacher, and now that feeling has only intensified how I think about you as a person!

  116. Your family is such an inspiration. You and Steve are such wonderful parents to your boys. Thanks you for sharing your life with all of your blog followers. I am in awe of you.

  117. I think you need to send this to that neonatologist so he can share it with other mamas who find themselves walking the same road as you. These are powerful words!

  118. First time I entered your blog I didn’t see none of those doc’s predictions on David Life, but all you cited above.
    Blessed your generous hearts and now, instead oh why on you, I say glad it was you – David deserved those huge hearts of yours – Steve, you and Matty.
    :happytears:

  119. Thank you for sharing that. It is a beautiful tribute to David, motherhood and faith, and I was touched and encouraged by it. Again, thank you.

  120. sniff.
    I adore your jewlery, but what keeps me coming back to this space is the journey you are on as the mother of two boys. I love reading about your adventures, seeing the beautiful photographs you take. The love you have for your children is very infectious. They are beautiful little ones. 🙂

  121. Thank you so much for sharing this. I think we all go through similar emotions as Moms, but your words are so touching. I am an occupational therapist who works with all different children with such varying abilities. I love your post. So real, so honest, and filled with so much love! Happy Mother’s Day!

  122. I had goosebumps reading your blog! What a wonderful testament for life!
    May God continue blessing you and your beautiful family!

  123. I’m new to your blog but I wanted to say I love this post. Just love it. I was (up until I left to raise my fourth baby) a L&D RN. I have held so many babies born with disabilities or various syndromes. I wish I could say that all their parents would feel this way after the initial shock is gone. Beautiful.

    1. I am so glad I have found you amd your business. First, I’d like to say, I am here because I have fallen in love with your jewelry and hope to be able to get some for myself for Mother’s Day
      SECOND….I am Mom to 3 boys and my middle son also has a genetic condition…which leaves him the same as you’re son…very much so. When Benjamin was born we were told the same things as you…severe mental handicap, wont walk, wont talk. .I felt broken. Ben is now 14 and he walks, he speaks in his own way and he is happy. Reading about David and your family makes me appreciate the life I have…you are amazing…thank you

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