The Flowering of The Cross

March 27, 2016
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flowering -of -the - crossThe Flowering of the Cross is an Easter tradition that touches my heart. What is it? Each Easter, churches ask their parishioners to bring flowers from their gardens to decorate the Cross.

The flowers symbolize the Easter promise: the resurrection of hope and new life after the pain Jesus experienced dying on the cross.

Click the MORE button and be uplifted by beauty! Happy Easter!
the-flowering-of-the-cross
I love the simplicity of the picture below, and how seniors and children and parents are participating in this together.
What a wonderful memory for everyone.

Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 5.14.48 AMI also love how all of these different congregations, be they Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, etc, all , in their own unique ways, and despite their differences, create these beautiful flower crosses on Easter that symbolize the resurrection of hope and new life.
Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 5.15.29 AMDoes this tradition touch you as much as it does me? 
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the-flowering-of-the-crossIn this last picture below, it’s hard to know what’s going through his young mind as he’s placing his flower on the Cross, but whatever it is, this memory, this image, will be with him through a lifetime.
He will always be able to look at it and remember that no matter what trials he may be facing, Jesus faced those trials for him already, and through simple faith in the promise of the Cross, he will always be forgiven and given another chance.
And so will we all.
the-flowering-of-the-cross
Happy Easter to each of you! 
Happy-EasterLeslie

” messages of hope – giving hope a home by giving back – forever “

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If you’d like to read a lovely post on how to make a small flowering Easter cross,
perhaps for someone you know in a nursing home or in the hospital,
please click
here.

#beautyheals 

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One Word

January 5, 2016
What one word will guide you in 2016-

What one word will guide you in 2016-Every year, for the past 7 years, I’ve chosen one word to guide my actions for the year.  Last year, in 2015, that word was *strength.*

Choosing #oneword is a wonderful tool for lending intentional clarity to the decisions you’re asked to make – or have to make – throughout the year.

For instance, here’s a little story about how I used this tool in 2015.

During the last quarter of 2015, my Mother got very,very,very sick. We almost lost her.

I spent my time in the hospital with her, at rehab with her and taking care of all she wasn’t able to do. The week before this happened, I had just helped move her into her new *forever* home, so there was a lot to do.

It was my joy to help take care of her, be with her and to help her heal as best I could, and I’m happy to share that today she’s back to playing duplicate bridge and enjoying her life, as much as she can, in her new home.

During that same time, though, I had to make a decision to move.

Why?

I wanted and needed to reduce my rent, which was raised to a sky high amount, more than the mortgage on most houses in my area.

As fate would have it, the perfect place for me opened up, in the perfect location, right across the street from the lake I love and down the street from the bird sanctuary I enjoy so much, BUT it was much smaller than where I had been living.

That meant downsizing, a lot. It meant more *things to do* in a life already crammed full of *things to do* during this time I was caring for Mom.

I knew it would be stress-FULL.

Then, I thought about my #oneword: strength. And I filtered this decision through that word.

I prayed for the strength, both physically and emotionally, to be able to accomplish this move during this already extremely stressful time in my life.

And, then, I did it.

I moved. It was hard, SO HARD, but now, with much less *stuff* in a smaller home, it means more, for me, of the luxury I value most:

Time.

Now, for 2016, my #oneword is *faith*.

What will your #oneword be for 2016?

What one word will help you clarify what you should do, when you’re asked to or need to, make a decision this year?

~~~

I leave you with this image I took on my morning walk across the street to the lake.

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Have a blessed New Year ahead, dear readers, and know > you are never alone.

There are so many stories we know nothing about.

Everyone is going through something, but, with faith {and friends}, we pull through.

And…if you need to be lifted up right now,

I invite you to join the community of kind, caring people who leave positive comments over on Messages of Hope’s Facebook Page at

http://facebook.com/MessagesofHope1

 

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The Hem of His Garment

December 25, 2015
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Image Credit: Jaana Uolamo , the Northern Lights, Finland Wherever you are in the world, may this day, Christmas Day 2015, be the day you reach up to touch the hem of his garment, knowing you are meant to receive the gifts that are waiting just for you.

Just as the Three Kings delivered to Him the gifts that were meant to be his, the miracle of His birth delivered to us the gift He was meant to bring to us…

the promise of His love… for all races, all religions, all the people on this beautiful planet of ours – no matter what.

~ Merry Christmas ~
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jjamv/15794865908
Leslie 
~~~ 
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A Christmas Message For C

December 16, 2015
Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Leslie Carothers @ 11:22 am
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www.messagesofhope.com || Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/valdet_b/6540474847 This post is for my real life friend, C.

At this moment in time, right before Christmas, C is having a difficult week with her chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Her 10 year old daughter, also a C, helped C by decorating their home for Christmas and on C‘s good days, she and her husband and daughter are out celebrating all the joys of this season together.

C is being so courageous through all of this, and we who are her friends in real life, and online, are praying that she feels well enough to get on a plane to spend Christmas in Florida with her parents, where they are preparing to help her celebrate a milestone birthday next week.

~~~

Friends of mine in real life who may be reading this and friends of Messages of Hope:

What I know and have witnessed in my life, and you probably have to, is that the most important C of all, Jesus Christ – can perform miracles.

His birth itself was a miracle and that miracle is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Please join with all of us who know C in real life in praying that C has a beautiful Christmas with her young daughter, her husband, and her family –  full of joy, love, and peace.

Please pray for her complete healing.

~~~

And friends of this blog, I know that many of you who are reading this are also praying for a miracle this Christmas season for yourselves, a loved one or a friend.

And what can I tell you that I’ve experienced in my own life? What message of hope can I give all of YOU this Christmas?

Christ has an unlimited supply of miracles, all freely available to all of us, all the time, through clarity in prayer. “

“In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 4.01.37 AMMay your Christmas be blessed, C, despite all you are enduring now, and may you rest, surrounded in the comfort and care of the loving arms of Jesus Christ and your real life family and friends.

You are a shining light to all of us who are lucky enough to know you.

www.messagesofhope.com || Image Credit: http://pix-bavaria.com/mf/advent/127-06-D~~~
Leslie 

#messagesofhope

 

 

 

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Beautiful Bible Journaling Pages

November 4, 2015
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Bible Journaling || Image Credit:http://tiffanydoodles.blogspot.com/2015/02/bible-journaling-art-freebie-proverbs.html#.Vjn7OWSrT7dGood morning, friends of Messages of Hope. How are you? It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post because I’ve been spending almost every spare minute of the past two months either working at my main business, taking care of my mother and the *things of her life* because she got terribly sick { but who, through the grace of God and good nursing care recovered and is just now back home as of yesterday } and downsizing dramatically and moving into a new home, myself.

I had so much to do and many times I felt overwhelmed. What helped me get through it all was prayer, eating clean so my own mind and body stayed clear and healthy through it all and the prayers, positive words, thoughts and deeds of my friends on Facebook and in real life.

However, yesterday afternoon, I had an emotional meltdown. Moving my Mom back into her own home from rehab was extremely tough – and it ended in a bad way. I felt terrible, she felt terrible, and yet it happened.

The tears would not stop. I walked out and got in my car and just wanted to run away – forever.

What happened next, though, was this:

I didn’t start my car, I just sat in it and cried and cried. And then, a tiny voice within me came through and said to me, “Leslie, you have to go back upstairs to your Mom’s front door and knock on it and not leave things like this. What if she dies overnight? Do you want this to be the way it ends?

And I did go back upstairs. And the fact that I was able to do that, {because I was angry – very angry at that moment, which is the emotion that pops up when you feel hurt and/or wounded} was simply through the grace of God.
Bible Journaling ||http://homegrownhospitality.typepad.com/homegrown_hospitality/bible-journaling/And when I knocked on the door, Mom answered, and, although she was still upset, too, she put a cool cloth on my forehead and poured me a glass of chocolate milk.

Bible Journaling || www.homegrownhospitality.typepad.com And because I also believe in the power of synchronicity, when I woke up this morning, still feeling tender, this is the very first thing I saw when I sat down to check on my friends on Facebook.
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 6.10.14 AMFriends, we all know that millions of people the world over are caregivers or are the ones being cared for. I know that this tiny *slice of my life story* that I’ve shared with you today, is but one drop in a very, very big sea of stories just like it.

I know, though, that when I pray and a tiny space of forgiveness opens up, for myself and for the *other*, I always find comfort. I hope the same can be true for you if you’re dealing with something similar.
Bible Journaling || Image Credit: http://stephanieackermandesigns.com This describes things perfectly this morning.
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And this is what I plan to do today, and I hope you will join me.
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 5.06.42 AMMy sincere thanks to the women who created these beautiful Bible Journaling pages I’ve shared here today and if you’d like to find a Bible journaling image to help you through a challenging time, too, please see this Pinterest board where you can find more:

http://pinterest.com/timewarpwife/bible-journaling

And just one more of these, because I love them so.
Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 5.36.37 AMHave a blessed day.

Leslie

#messagesofhope 

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Designing A Life You Love

October 12, 2015
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#TheHopeBlog || www.messagesofhope.com || Illustration by Patricia Alix -Villa of www.fancygirldesignstudio.com in SingaporeAs we all begin a new work week today, I ran across these wonderful illustrations created by Patricia Alix-Villa.

The words in the one above started me thinking:

Am I consciously designing, little by little and step by step, the life I want to live?

I have to say, for many years of my life, I did not, consciously, design a life I would want to live. I let spontaneity and the needs of others rule.

Today, I AM mindfully designing the life I love…and want to live for the rest of my years, but it’s taken me a long time to get here.  I am in the process of de-cluttering and moving into a much smaller [ 750 sq.feet! ] home that puts me across the street from the place that brings me the most joy, the place where I can watch the sun rise over the lake by crossing the street and ride my bike to the bird sanctuary 1/4 mile away.

This makes me happy!!

Are any of you de-cluttering and living with less? Are you designing the life you want to live, a life you will love?

If you are, friends and readers, I’d love to know, in the comments, what you’re doing, how you’re doing it and what made you decide to do it. Your story is as important to me as it is to everyone reading #TheHopeBlog. You never know how – or when – or where – your words will have an impact on someone else’s life, but for sure they will.

#TheHopeBlog || www.messagesofhope.com || Illustration by Patricia Alix -Villa of www.fancygirldesignstudio.com in SingaporeSometimes, it’s easy to forget what this illustration says, below, when we’re not mindful of designing the life we want to live, right?
#TheHopeBlog || www.messagesofhope.com || Illustration by Patricia Alix -Villa of www.fancygirldesignstudio.com in Singapore
And I’m adding this, because I just love this illustration of Patricia’s.
#TheHopeBlog || www.messagesofhope.com || Illustration by Patricia Alix -Villa of www.fancygirldesignstudio.com in Singapore
Have a beauty -FULL week ahead!

Thank you for being. I appreciate YOU.

Leslie
~~~
#TheHopeBlog

#messagesofhope 

www.messagesofhope.com 

~~~
Please join me in spreading messages of hope to those in need on..

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And gratitude to you, Patricia, for your beautiful illustrations that can be found on:

fancygirldesignstudio.com

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You are Beautiful Just The Way You Are

October 5, 2015
www.messagesofhope.com (3)

www.messagesofhope.com || #messagesofhope || http://instagram.com/Messagesof_HOPE || http://twitter.com/messagesof_hope || http://facebook.com/messagesofhope1
This pretty pink illustration says it all for me today. I hope you will really take its message into your heart, as I have, despite all that is going in my life right now:

You are incredible,adorable, lovable, wonderful, powerful, perfectly beautiful, just exactly the way you are….and I would add: inside and out, always.

I believe words, read into our minds, have the power to heal, do you?

~~~ 
Leslie 

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What Helps You Live Happy?

October 2, 2015
MOH_Happy

www.messagesofhope.com || FB/MessagesofHope1 || INSTA/Messagesof_HOPE || Twitter: Messagesof_HOPE Life doesn’t always take us in the direction we want it to take us, and sometimes it can be really hard and throw us way off track.

When that happens, as has happened to me recently due to my Mom getting very sick and having to go into the hospital after major surgery and then into rehab, I search for ways to get back, as fast as possible, to what brings me joy.

One of the things that brings me joy is color.

Another thing that brings me joy is writing.

Another thing that brings me joy is expressions of creativity in illustration, so I decided to combine my loves today and find illustrations about ways to live happy.

Just writing this post, reading the words on these illustrations and making these pretty, colorful collages to share with you has improved my own happiness quotient by 50% already today!

I hope looking at them and reading the words in them help you find ways to live happier today, too, no matter what you might be facing.

www.messagesofhope.com || FB/MessagesofHope1 || INSTA/Messagesof_HOPE || Twitter: Messagesof_HOPE

www.messagesofhope.com || FB/MessagesofHope1 || INSTA/Messagesof_HOPE || Twitter: Messagesof_HOPE
And, if you have a little more time, here are links to two posts I read that really helped me.

The first one is about what you can do to live happier, based on the neuroscience behind happiness. Please don’t miss reading this, I think you might find it really interesting, too, as the author shares why certain actions really can make you happier, based on what happens to your brain chemistry when you take those actions.

http://bakadesuyo.com/2015/09/make-you-happy-2

and this one has beautiful, colorful graphics [one is at the bottom of this post] and lots of good tips

http://the greatist.com/grow/how-to-be-happy-long-term 

Please let me know in the comments how you get back to your center of happiness and balance when you’re having a rough stretch in your life, either here in the comments or over on:

http://facebook.com/MessagesofHope1 

Thank you!

Have a blessed day.
In gratitude.

Leslie 

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Rely On Him

September 3, 2015
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Quotes || #TheHopeBlog || www.messagesofhope.com These past few days, I’ve been helping my Mom move into her new home. She’s 85 and this is her *forever home.* I know many of you have done the same thing, or are planning for the same thing, or are in the midst of the same thing. 

If it all seems a little overwhelming to you, or exhausting, as it has to me at times, I hope you will look back and reflect on this quote I’m sharing today and know, as I know, that when you’ve reached your limit, He never has…and never will.

No matter what you may be going through, know:

You are safe.

You are not alone.

Hope quotes || You are not alone || http://messagesofhope.com || Image Credit: Katrina Maxwell Photography

You can ALWAYS rely on Him, and until He answers… maybe you could call a friend, call anyone, write in a journal, enjoy your favorite activity or go for a walk in nature to regain balance and perspective?  I’ve done all of these things, and I can share:

It all helps ease the overwhelm.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed by what life is throwing at you?

I’d love it if you’d share your own ways of coping, in the comments. Whatever you share is sure to help someone who may need your words of wisdom, who is reading this post.

In Gratitude.

~~~ 
Leslie 

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Imagine

August 20, 2015
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Image Credit: Kunito Imai || www.messagesofhope.com
My encounter with a homeless man, and how it impacted me, is the topic of today’s post, dear readers.

Here’s the story.

Last weekend, I saw a homeless man at my local street corner with this sign,

“I’m not a drunk, I’m not a drug addict, I’m a former Marine trying to get by.”
image of homeless man || Collage created by Leslie Carothers || http://messagesofhope.com

That stopped me cold and this was the next thought that ran through my mind, “Even if this man’s sign is a lie to get money, what if it’s true?” and then my next 2 thoughts were:

“Who am I to judge because there but for the grace of God go I?”

“What if he’s a homeless veteran that fought for me so I could sit here in my air conditioned car in the middle of 100 degree heat about to turn in to this parking lot so I can buy fresh food for the week?”

I rolled down my window and dug to the bottom of my purse to give him money. The smile he flashed to thank me lit up my world. It was pure sunshine. 

After that happened, I started thinking about The Butterfly Effect, Edward Lorenz’s famous discovery that a very small change in initial conditions can and will create a significantly different outcome. I started thinking about how many homeless people think they don’t matter, that they don’t make a difference, and never will again.

This man didn’t have anything material to give, but because he gave me his smile, he changed my thought patterns. He made a difference.

What if just 3 of us, like the 3 butterflies whose wings are fluttering in tandem in the opening picture of this post, practiced non judgement towards the homeless we see?

Could we help them know they still matter, that they are not alone? Could that be the key to unlocking their sense of hope for a better future – and ours?
John Lennon Monument - NYC || Image Credit: Ramy Majouji || www.messagesofhope.com

If you love John Lennon’s famous song like I do and have a few extra minutes, click the image above to listen to and see the original video of him singing IMAGINE.

It has been viewed over 20 million times.

#andtheworldwillbeone
#messagesofhope

~~~
Leslie Carothers
www.messagesofhope.com

#GivingHopeAHomeByGivingBack – Forever – To The Charities You Care Most About
~~~

If you would like to read about the entire vision for Messages of Hope, please click the link below.
http://messagesofhope.com/the-story-of-messages-of-hope-2

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