topics:
Grace Pain

When David was born eleven years ago, I had no idea what the future held. I thought I knew. I thought I had it all planned out. But everything I planned was broken to pieces as our son emerged into the world with only two fingers on his left hand, a serious heart defect and a genetic disorder that would change the way his life would look.

At first I couldn’t stop crying. Nothing made sense. Then I was determined and overly optimistic. I would be the best mom ever. No matter what it took, I would make everything okay. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t be good enough. If I wasn’t physically exhausted then I was emotionally exhausted. It wasn’t just David who was broken, it was me too. I couldn’t be good enough to make up for his lack.

We were both imperfect; flawed and needy. And as I started to accept the brokenness, I began to see bits of beauty emerge. Small things, like a sunflower in bloom, caught my eye. And I could feel my heart begin to heal. When David started to smile, it was like the sun shined brighter. As I let go of trying to make everything perfect, I started to see beauty in the brokenness.

evening walk in morro bay-07

Lisa Leonard Designs began as a hobby/business that I hoped would enable me to have more flexibility with my boys. Each necklace, bracelet and gift is hand-molded with love and care. The pieces are filled with meaning.

They’re meant to be given as gifts, for yourself or a dear friend that will encourage the heart. My desire is that these pieces will be worn for years and years and serve as symbols of beauty in brokenness.

Well with my Soul

It is Well with My Soul Necklace

Be Still and Know

Be Still and Know Necklace

Love by Lisa Leonard

Amore Necklace

These days my husband runs the business {he’s amazing, that man!} and I oversee the creative side of Lisa Leonard Designs. I get to do what I love most and I get to spend time with my boys. It’s an incredible blessing, one I don’t take for granted.

The business has grown beyond {way beyond} our wildest expectations. I sincerely believe it’s grown because as I’ve shared our story of finding beauty in brokenness, you’ve been willing to share yours. We are all imperfect—but loved and valuable. This is the heart of our community.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

Where are you finding beauty in brokenness? Will you share with us?

By: Lisa Leonard

***

You can find the Lisa Leonard Jewelry Line at DaySpring here. This month only, use coupon code SUMMER25 to receive 25% off your entire purchase. Stay tuned for a Lisa Leonard giveaway later this week!

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  1. 1

    Lisa,
    What a testimony you have to share…thank you! I love your designs, but even more so now that I know a bit of your story. You truly have found beauty in the brokenness. I have an anxiety disorder and have also suffered from depression. I tell people my brain is “broken”, but my heart isn’t. God has so spoken love to me in my brokenness…a love I might never have known had it not been for my illness. It is certainly not an easy road, but God has always remained faithful and has brought beauty from ashes. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. 3

    Every day is imperfect and some are far worse than others. But at the end of the day I am finding that love and hope are a part of my day. Sometimes it’s hope for early bedtime and sometimes it’s hope that whatever is broken will be ok but the love is there. If I can curl up up with my children every day and have that moment of love then there was goodness in the days brokenness. Every day I start with some time with The Lord and end it in love and prayer. If I can accomplish that then I’m ok!

  3. 5

    Wow. What a revelation you gave me this morning. I have a 17yo daughter with special needs. I never thought about how I was broken, too. Looking back, that was especially true in the first years of her life. Now, I don’t see that all. I have found beauty in life and purpose to it all. But, still…your words were powerful. Thanks for sharing!

    • 6

      I’m so glad you’ve found beauty and purpose! That is a beautiful thing. I love haring that God used my words for you today. He is good. xo

  4. 7

    So, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. The smile on your little boy’s face is the most endearing… :)

    God’s shown me that He can shine beuaty on the brokeness that comes with enduring trials in the valley times, as in my own family, and beauty that can come through His healing touch in my life. He’s shown me that “broken” is when He works best…when He shines through more, and that in being a “broken vessel” for Him He can still use me. :)

  5. 9
    Cheryl H. says:

    WELCOME TO HOLLAND

    by
    Emily Perl Kingsley.

    c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

    I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

    When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

    “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

    But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

    The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

    So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

    It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

    And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

    But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

    • 10

      This is a beautiful parable of accepting those things we cannot change. It makes me think of a book I read a long time ago, written by Hannah Hurnard, Hinds Feet on High Places. The character, Acceptance with Joy, always has stood out to me and challenged me through the years in this life journey. Thank you Emily for your contribution!

    • 11

      We’re so glad our plane landed in Holland! Thank you for sharing. I love this.

      • 12
        Jessica says:

        What a great story! It reminded me of very beautiful things that I would never have seen. Thanks for sharing.

  6. 13

    Lisa this article on brokenness has moved me deeply, and I will add something to my journal entry for this morning inspired by your words and sharing your beautiful story. The love intertwined in you and your husband’s teamwork to inspire others through the brokenness you accepted with having a son with special needs shines brightly. Your son dwells under an umbrella of love and acceptance and shines through his smile. My mother passed away a month ago and I am still grieving over the loss. The grief seems to magnify all the other areas of my life that are far from perfect. I read this earlier this morning in Acts 2:28 amp., “You have made known to me the ways of life: You will enrapture me [diffusing my soul with joy] with and in Your presence.” I prayed and asked God to show me the way of life for me in this season, your words that you share about embracing the brokenness and allow pieces of beauty to emerge from it help me greatly. Thanks!!

    • 14

      I’m so sorry you lost your mom. I’m praying for peace and I’m humbled to hear that God is using my words to encourage you. Hugs to you Maggie.

  7. 15

    Beauty in the brokenness of some difficult times in my marriage. Finding out that even when words are harsh and potentially devastating from my H, the Holy Spirit gives me a strong sense of belovedness and worth from him that is untouchable.

  8. 17
    Lyn Dershem says:

    I too tried to be the perfect mom to my children, who have no physical handicaps but deep wounding from their childhood in Russia. When we adopted them at ages 9 & 11, I decided I would be everything to them that they had missed out on. They became idols in my life, and it has just been in the past year, that God spoke to me about “laying my Isaac down.” It has been a very hard, difficult journey, but I finally realized that if I was the perfect mom and gave them everything they needed, they wouldn’t need God. Thank you for sharing your story, Lisa, and for your beautiful jewelry. I see it completely different now.

  9. 19

    Can you only order your products on-line? I was just in slo and looked in shops and the Thurs. farmers market for someone who sells it. No luck! I love your story and the creative beauty of your products. I was just hoping I could buy local! Blessings to you, Lisa! Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart

    • 20

      Hi Rachael! We mainly do online sales but Hands Gallery on Higuera in SLO sells lots of our jewelry! Hope you had fun in my town! xx

  10. 21

    Lisa, I am encouraged today from your post. There is no wisdom from above till we accept our brokenness. There is a song I remember from years ago titles, Pick Up the Broken Pieces (and give them to the Lord). At 66 my life is full of broken pieces but all made of stained glass. Through them I can view what life hands me and they seems beautiful with a hint of different colors with His love shining through. At this time I have a son who needs to be broken so he will turn back to the Lord. I cannot fix him, only God can do that. Great post this morning. Bless you sister.

  11. 23

    Just ordered the LOVE necklace and will wear with 2 charms for my 2 children. Will be a wonderful reminder that none of us are perfect – but are loved and valued.

  12. 25

    It is so true. My special needs daughter is 15 now and has grown so much this year. She was baptized this past Sunday and she has been such an inspiration to me of what our relationship with God is really supposed to be like. Vulnerable, honest, and just believe. No questions asked by her. She just knows He is there. It is amazing. She has definitely helped me grow.

  13. 27

    Thank you for sharing you life’s journey with us Lisa. Thank you for not painting a rosy picture of perfection but sharing your true story of brokenness, love & faith that we all can relate to on many levels.

  14. 29

    My daughter bought me the “It is Well” necklace for Christmas, last year.

    We lost my son suddenly to undiagnosed congestive heart failure just 3 days before his 30th birthday, in August 2011. I have had many comments about the necklace and many times have been able to tell “our story”.

    Your story is inspiring.

    Thank you for the beautiful jewelry that says exactly how I feel to the world.

    In His Grace –
    Bev

  15. 31

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a different kind of story. Born bright. Top of my class. Well liked. Bubbly. But had struggles too. But five years ago I had a traumatic brain injury and now I’m the disabled one. The one even nurses comment about how strangely different are my disabilities….so I know I’m different now and lots of friends are too busy nor desire the burden of having a disabled friend along on a shopping trip or out to lunch with the gang. But I know I’m loved by Jesus. I remember hymns and verses I learned long ago. My husband is so helpful.
    But today I’m dealing (processing?) something else. Last Monday in a topical procedure (biopsy) my heart stopped. The doctor did CPR 30 seconds, checked, still no pulse so he continued until I came to, about two more minutes later. So my heart? For no known cause stopped. I had many seizures that were so strange and I still hurt a lot. My brain is still so tired. But I saw your art. On this day of confusion. I felt funny in the head with much mental all at once so my hubby is now working from home– my heart itself? It’s given up on me. But it is well with MY SOUL. Now ill nap and rest in Jesus.

  16. 33

    Ps. I ordered the heart necklace

  17. 34
    Beth Williams says:

    Lisa,

    Wow! What an awesome testimony you have!!

    I have dealt with broken parents. Mom had sundowners and dementia for 2 year she was bedridden. I visited her weekly and she knew who I was. It was a painful period for my family, especially my dad who took care of her 24/7 365. He did a terrific job & through it all came back to Christ.

    It has been 4 years since she passed on, & I miss her, but not all the brokenness & strain we went through.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  18. 36

    My son and I wrote about our journey in our book Broken Dreams,Beautiful Quilts a story of healing and hope!

  19. 37

    My brokenness was infertility… it held my hand like a horrible best friend for years! I thought oh this is my cross to bear, but always wondered what did I ever do to deserve such a punishment! I cried so many tears because of the emptiness it left in my heart. My life was not turning out the way I had always wanted it to be… I asked many times, “Why was God being so mean?” It wasn’t until I got tired of the pain… I got tired of the disappointment I carried around… I got tired of holding it all together & not trusting God, that things finally changed. It was in an encounter with my Heavenly Father in a woods in northern Michigan that my healing began… in those few moments He touched my heart & opened my eyes to see all of His faithfulness in my life. He reminded me that His grace is sufficient for me! It was about all He has laid before me… not about all I felt He was keeping from me! It was my choice to lay down the “bat” I had been carrying for years that I used quite often to “hit” myself over the head to remind me of the pain… if I hurt long enough or bad enough maybe God would give me what I wanted. It was realizing that by keeping that part of my heart closed-off from trusting God… I really didn’t trust Him with any of it! He showed me that my answer to this prayer was going to look so different from what I could ever imagine… He is still revealing bits & pieces of it all the time! I may not ever physically give birth to a child, but He has given me what I need to give birth through my writing… through my creativity… through spiritual children I have been blessed to help & guide! Now the only brokenness I have when it comes to infertility are the shattered chains that once held me back! Praise God… He never gives up on us!

  20. 38

    I was a pediatric nurse for 18 years and met a little boy who had the same thing as David, I always remember the love his foster parents gave him…unconditional and the love he gave back to them 10 fold. When I had my own children I remembered this boy and his love and was so thankful for healthy children. Until at age 2 my middle daughter changed, we fought for years for help and finally when she was 10 she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder, she fell between the cracks as her case was “mild” they said, but what no one understood was the nightmare we lived with at home with temper tantrums etc then our 3rd child came along another girl and while very demanding we never gave a second thought that there might be something there as well, to be honest I thought she was just copying her big and loud sister and we were too busy dealing with the behaviour from our other daughter… until a teacher gently took me aside one day in grade 3 and told us we needed to get our youngest tested as well… she was also diagnosed with ADD, Obsessive compulsive disorder, low frustration tolerance (ie anything and everything would throw her into a temper tantrum). I found God right around the time our 2nd was diagnosed and without the knowledge of his perfect Grace and Love I don’t know how we would survive day in and day out. His love and mercy are never ending and he has my girls in his hands and a plan layed out for their future…Praise Him!

  21. 39

    “It wasn’t just David who was broken, it was me too. ” Lisa, it is beautiful to read how your heart intertwined with David’s and then, in that place, beautiful designs flowed out to inspire your jewelry. This year has been broken, broken, broken for me. But, I’m beginning to see beauty and it’s funny, like you said, those moments are tucked in small places, that feel big to me. xoxo

  22. 40
    muchalone says:

    When my first child with special needs arrived, it felt like a miracle…I saw his neediness, and threw myself into nurturing. I found great delight in getting to know that little person, and the brokenness was dwarfed by his exuberant spirit and cute, elfin face. After the second child with special needs arrived, I was jolted to the reality of life–the rest of the world saw more brokenness than beauty, and labeled us as defective. I learned about many ‘supposed to’s'–supposed to resent the time my little ones need, supposed to mourn that they are different, supposed to pretend that they are not and deny their needs…and I failed miserably with the ‘supposed to’s'…because I was too busy being their Mom to follow the scripts strangers wanted to write for me.
    I am thankful for the way God led me through the early years of struggle. As they become older and loose the ‘little’ part of being ‘cute little kids’ I notice the brokenness more…mostly because they stand out more when they stand above the crowd…and God still leads and my kids still show His miracle creativity in their lives. And I still have times when I don’t notice how broken they are until someone pulls back from us…or mentions that my kids aren’t normal…oh yeah, that’s right…they’re just perfectly made by their Creator–and quite uniquely so!
    And then brokenness hit me full force when I discovered a secret…broken vows…my shattered heart…stalled recovery…just marking time here in a broken, hurtful place…and I don’t see God in this the way He shows Himself through my kids…I see the pieces…the jagged edges…the failure…

  23. 41

    I think the “It is Well” necklace is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your special story.

  24. 42
    Liz Gardner says:

    Hi Lisa

    I came across your story and jewellery via Day Spring. Is there an outlet in the UK where we can buy your jewellery as Day Spring doesn’t deliver outside the US?

    I love your story and found it so encouraging for all the times of brokenness in my life.

    Many blessings to you and your family
    Liz

  25. 43
    Becky Mazurek says:

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt words of hope and strength. My father had a massive stroke on July 4th and has been in a hospital bed every day since the stroke and life has changed forever. I am his oldest daughter and live the closest to help him. I am his person and assust him to make all his life decisions, etc. and his medical decisions, finances. I just got word yesterday that he will not get to go home again but instead will need to reside in a 24/7 care facility. He is 77 and thinks he is working toward going home. I have to share the news soon with him that life will be very imperfect from this point forward. I will look at life differently now after reading your story. This is what I needed for my own heart and brokenness in all of this life experience and challenge. I have your necklace “It is Well with my Soul” and I wear it everyday before I head out the door and now it even has more meaning and encouragement to me. Thank you so much.

  26. 44

    I thank you for sharing your life and brokeness.
    I have depression/anxiety and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I have 5 siblings with depression and anxiety, and 3 children with it. One daughter has PTSD also.
    I have struggled for the last 15 years with my faith and God. I had not lost belief, but spent most of my time watching my faith wrestling with my everyday pain.
    God has also shown me the great blessings that can come to you through the painful parts of your life. It makes you more loving towards those who are broken, and then helps you see that we are ALL broken. Some just show it on the outside and some are hidden inside.
    I have struggled as a mother with the judgements of others when they view my children’s behavior as they struggle with their internal disabilities. I have to keep my eyes on God for He knows their pain and the reasons for their behaviors.
    I have been broken so many times, but each time the Lord heals me, I find more and more beauty in Him, myself and those around me.

  27. 45

    I recognize your David, as my sister had a son with Cornelia de Lange syndrome. He lived to be 32 years old, and sadly passed away last year. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I am going to print your story for my sister, for encouragement. Thank you again.

  28. 46

    Thank you Lisa, your story is beautiful and powerful! How precious is your sweet family! God is faithful! Beauty can only come as we surrender, I have gone through 10 years of loss, but in the midst of such tragedy I see the beauty in things I wouldn’t have seen before & also the beauty of Christ formed in me as a result of surrendering my brokenness to Him, so I count my losses (i.e. godly marriage, security of my own home, health of my son, financial struggles, loss of my dear Mom to cancer – just to name a few of the “valley of losses” over the past decade) all have enlarged my capacity to grow in the beauty of the Lord! And I have found that we can be joyful because of His faithfulness & love…He makes ALL things beautiful in His time!

  29. 47

    Dear Lisa, your testimony is powerful, and your child is a beautiful blessing! I have a 15 year old Grandaughter who is the joy of my life! She has a slight form of autisim, I look at her and see the face of Jesus! He created her in a special way, and I love her so very much. Looking on the positive, and seeing all of her abilities, and how she is so gifted in so many ways, this is a great gift from God. Jesus looks at her and see’s only perfection, and This Grandmother does too! Love to you and your family, and to the jewelery business, it is beautiful. Love Judyrae

  30. 48

    I find beauty in bare tree branches decorated with hoar frost(Canada); pieces of glass arranged into art; even broken cups plastered onto a board. As I reviewed our family history while doing scrapbooks I saw that at a very low point in our lives, the love of my family expressed in loving acts like making a Mother’s Day meal from scratch and a homemade card, and the love of our church family in providing for a get away for us as a couple. It blesses me twice-once then and again as I review it. That is love!

  31. 49

    Lisa,
    I know the stories here are beautiful & painful, & you may not see all the comments. I just wanted to thank you for sharing so openly. Beauty in brokenness opens in the lives of so many beautiful women around me.
    But we can feel ashamed of the brokenness, of the poor choices, of the selfish responses, of the exhaustion with a child that takes so much. So thanks for living your journey with a balance of grace, truth, & redemption. SO many need to hear.
    p.s. Saw your pictures of Montana de Oro on your blog, & remembered with joy 2 years ago when my family was there camping, & enjoying the beach, & you were there! You made my day with your sweet encouraging words & gracious smile.
    love~

  32. 50
    Kimberly says:

    Your son is beautiful!

  33. 51
    Sarah L says:

    I’ve seen beauty in brokenness in grief. My beautiful sister passed away unexpectedly at age 20. There was no warning. I’d seen her the week before and she was fine. Then she was gone. A senseless tragedy took her life. I tailspinned into grief and depression as I tried to make sense of why her life was cut short. As I worked through the grief I drew closer to God and found peace in his comfort. I found love in Him beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. HIS presence, HIS comfort, HIS love. As the anniversary of her passing came and went last month, I still miss her. I wish she could have been an auntie to my girls. I wish I could see her smile and hug her one last time.

    Beauty came in a new way of living…realizing life is to short to hold grudges, to forget to be grateful for the little things, to hug close those I love, and to not take life for granted. Beauty came in understanding grief. Beauty came in being there for others who have lost loved ones. Beauty in wanting to make a difference in the world. Beauty in experiencing connection with God and others through grief.