Rooted by a desire to make a difference in the world, Hall County native Leslie Thornton is blooming where she’s planted, spreading the fragrance of love and hope across North Georgia.
Behind the moniker Bloomed with a Blessing, Thornton, who now resides in Hoschton, arranges and delivers free floral bouquets to those in need of encouragement amid a difficult season or a plain-and-simple reminder that they’re loved and appreciated.
The initial seed, Thornton said, was planted by a podcast about “a woman who loved pretty things and wanted to make a difference, so she started selling flowers.”
“I was like, ‘I really like pretty things, too; I know nothing about (arranging flowers), but I’m sure I could learn,’” Thornton said. “I sit in an office on a high-rise and I want to get out and do something that means something. So I started thinking about that — ‘What if I just gave people flowers that are going through a hard time, just for the sake of doing it, and for free?’ I sat on that for a year and then finally I was like, ‘OK, I feel like God’s nudging me a little bit harder.”
In June 2021, Thornton launched the initiative, using her own financial resources to supplement the funding as, through word of mouth and social media, individuals submitted nominations ranging from patients with cancer to mothers who needed a little extra recognition.
“It took off from there,” Thornton said. “Stories started pouring in from all over the place. Other businesses heard about it and they got involved and started spreading it. It took off like wildfire.”
A paralegal in Peachtree Corners by day, Thornton is also a full-time wife and a mother to 3-year-old Jackson while preparing for her daughter’s arrival in June. A self-described busybody, even the demands of motherhood and the corporate office don’t stop her from traveling an hour or more to place fresh flowers and a handwritten note on someone’s doorstep.
Resolute on “being the hands and feet of Jesus,” Thornton envelops the entire process, from nomination to delivery, in prayer.
“I have learned that God uses us in our daily lives to make a difference in other people’s lives because he speaks through us and lives in us,” Thornton said. “What if God has this person on my heart because I need to do something to support them so that they know, ‘God is listening to me. He sent this person into my life, and now I know that this person is praying over me?’ From the moment that (the orders) come in, I am praying over them. Most of the time it’s like, ‘OK, God, I’m going in to pick out flowers. Help me know which ones will speak to them and help me to be that example to them as they look at those flowers for the rest of the week.’”
One might assume spending so much time assembling bouquets would become monotonous to a nonprofessional florist, but in Thornton’s case, that isn’t so.
“The stories themselves are empowering enough to not be mechanical with it,” Thornton said. “There are people who have gone through things that just dig into your soul, and you’re just like, ‘This is why I do what I do.’ Every single one. Sometimes in the beginning, it was really hard. I’d say, ‘OK, God, you gave me this opportunity, but I don’t have the money for it this paycheck,’ and then people started donating. This is a God thing, and that’s what keeps me driving, too. God is funding this.”
So far, Thornton has covered ground in Gainesville and Hall County, Commerce, Dawsonville and Cumming.
“I’ve had people ask, ‘Where do you serve?’ and I just say, ‘You let me know where they’re at and we’ll make it happen,’” she said. “I think even if they’re not struggling, you and I still have something that goes on in the back of our minds that maybe we’re battling or facing even though we have a lot of good days. When people are going through a hard time, they’re focused — ‘I need you, God, where are you?’ And then there are times when things are really good and maybe we don’t reach out to God quite as much and we need a subtle reminder that ‘God loves you and he’s still thinking about you.’”
According to Thornton, she’s simply planting a seed and letting God handle the rest — and his activity in the last seven months has spurred a chain reaction of people seizing the opportunity to do good when it’s in front of them.
“I’ve had a lot of people who’ve received flowers and ask themselves, ‘What do I need to do for people? How do I need to make a difference?’” Thornton said. “I’ll have people who will order (flowers) for someone else because they received something and they want to bless (others). It’s kind of like when you’re going through a drive-thru and someone pays for your order and then you pay for the next person’s order — it’s kind of like that with Bloomed. People get an order and then pass it on to the next person.”
As for the future of Bloomed with a Blessing, Thornton said those details aren’t up to her. While she’d like to see it continue to grow and flourish, she’s holding the initiative with an open hand.
“I don’t want it to ever stop, but I guess that’s in God’s hands and in his control — he’s driving this thing,” she said. “I’m not really funding much of it anymore and God is providing. If he says, ‘This is what I needed for a season of your life,’ then OK. I would like to think that we could make this thing (into something) huge, but maybe God only has it for a season. Whatever it is, I’m just rolling with it.”
To nominate someone for one of Thornton’s floral arrangements, contact Bloomed with a Blessing via Instagram. Donations to the initiative can be made via PayPal, username @bloomedwithablessing.