Frequently Asked Questions about My Blog

by Melannie Svoboda SND on January 8, 2018

Today I am responding to some questions people ask me about my blog:

How did you start writing your blog?

My friend and colleague, Sister Susan Wolf, SND, suggested I start writing a blog. She encouraged several other Notre Dames to do it too. Learning to post a blog was a big learning curve for me, I must admit. I am not very computer-savvy. The first few posts took me hours and hours to do, but with Sister Susan’s gentle nudging and ready help, I finally began to get the hang of it.

Why did you start writing a blog?

My office in our attic (I prefer to call it our penthouse). This is where I do all my writing. I took this picture a couple of years ago when I was working on one of my books.

For several reasons. First, I have experienced the power of the written word in my personal life—so I believe in that power. Although I’ve been writing articles and books for over 40 years, I have never before had the immediate feedback that I get with my blog. I post something and right away a reader responds. That’s rewarding! That’s fun!

Sister Susan also convinced me that as educators, evangelizers, and “spiritual writers,” we must go where the people are. And many people today are online. When I learned that my blog has readers not only across the U.S. and Canada, but also from all over the world, all I could say was WOW!

Where do you get your ideas for your blog?

From everywhere! I read a lot, so sometimes I share something I’ve read—like a story or an insight or a person I have read about. I also draw from my personal prayer and experience. Good conversations with friends have also morphed into blogs. I have two manila folders on my desk labeled “blog ideas.” Both folders are stuffed with newspaper clippings, notes scribbled on small pieces of paper, 3 X 5 index cards with quotes, and such. Occasionally I’ll lift something from one of my books. Someone once asked, “Are you afraid of running out of ideas?” Not really. I think I’ll run out of LIFE before I run out of ideas for my blog!

How long does it take you to write a typical blog entry?

The time varies, but usually it takes me several hours. I rewrite a lot. I always have. I rewrite a lot so my readers won’t have to work so hard to read what I’ve written! I probably spend too much time looking for the songs I use—but I find that search rewarding and fun. There’s so much good music out there! In fact I have another folder labeled “blog music” with lists of songs for future blogs. It also takes me time to find appropriate pictures for my blog, ones that aren’t copyrighted.

How many people read your blog?

Me holding the two folders labeled “blog ideas.” (This picture was taken by Sr. Sandy Nativio, one of the sisters I live with.)

I have over 2,000 subscribers. Every Monday my blog gets about 1200 hits. I know there are some readers who share my blog with others too. One Sister says she makes copies of my blog each week for friends who do not or cannot use the computer. My writings in Living Faith, Living with Christ, and Give Us this Day have garnered new readers for me too.

What do you like best about writing your blog?

I like the whole process of posting a reflection—from getting an idea, to putting it into words, to finding music and pictures, and to designing the layout. After I post something, I eagerly wait for the responses to come in. I’m always interested in seeing what touched my readers or what new insights they add. When I give talks and retreats, I’m always happy to meet readers of my blog. I feel a bond with them, part of a beautiful “virtual community.”

Is there anything else you want to say about your blog?

I have been writing this blog since February 13, 2012. I have posted over 307 reflections and received over 5320 comments. I want to thank you for reading my blog and for responding to the posts. I am also grateful to the Sisters of Notre Dame for supporting my blog—financially and otherwise. I’m happy I can share my reflections with my readers for free!

Did anything strike you in this reflection?

How did you start reading my blog? How did you find me? If you’d like to share your story briefly, please respond below.

Here’s one of my favorite old Christian hymns: “How Can I Keep From Singing.” It was written in 1868 by Robert Wadsworth Lowry, a Baptist minister. This version is sung by Audrey Assad, the daughter of a Syrian refugee and American mother. Assad is an award winning Catholic singer and composer who even sang for Pope Francis when he visited the U.S. For this song, the background pictures of winter are appropriate for those of us living in the northern hemisphere. This hymn does not deny the “tumult, strife, and darkness” of life. But it says our singing is rooted in our trust in a loving and merciful God and in the supreme sacrifice of Jesus. When I hear this song, I am tempted to sing, “How can I keep from writing?… How can I keep from blogging?”

 

Would you like to share any thoughts with us today?

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Debra Smith January 8, 2018 at 6:08 am

I started reading your blog from reading Living Faith, Living With Christ. I always enjoyed when it was your reflection, there was a brief notation under your name about your blog…so I checked it out. What I loved from day one is the song/video that you include each week. My husband and I sang (well he sang, I played percussion) in a Folk Choir at mass for over 30 years….it disbanded when our leader and dear friend retired. The songs you choose are often songs we did and they bring back so many beautiful memories. Music is such an important part of our faith life. I really enjoyed your reflection today, nice to learn a bit more about you and what goes into your doing your blog!

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Debbie January 8, 2018 at 6:17 am

SIster Melannie, I have been reading your blog for a year now. I am an Episcopalian and read Morning Prayer at 3 a.m. followed by several devotionals. I discovered you in the pages of Give Us this Day. I enjoyed your blog so much that I scrolled back to the very first one and read forward. I am enjoying your books, too! Hope to get to meet you someday.

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Stephanie January 8, 2018 at 6:32 am

The teachers were given a subscription to Living Faith several years ago. Pressed for time in the morning to get to school, I love starting my day with these wonderful reflections. Every time I would read a reflection that deeply resonated with me, you were the author! This is also where I learned you have a blog and and subscribed. I love the topics, variety of music and uplifting joy you offer my soul every Monday! Thank you Sister Melanie.

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Kathy January 8, 2018 at 6:40 am

Thank you for your reflections, and keep it up!! It always makes my Mondays a little better when I read your words.

I went to a retreat day a few years ago in Cincinnati and loved your talks, then found the blog. I’ve been reading ever since!

The music selections pair up well with your writings, and sometimes I just listen to the music a few times to help my own prayer.

So glad you got out of your comfort zone and tried the blog. Thanks again.

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Tina January 8, 2018 at 7:12 am

I so look forward to your wise words each week and your song choices. I heard you speak several years ago and then began reading your blog. I am very grateful for you! You seem to choose a topic each week that I need to think about. Thank you.
Tina

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Rosalyn January 8, 2018 at 7:35 am

Thanks for sharing how you got started. This is always
A calm start to the week.

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Jeannette Roy January 8, 2018 at 7:40 am

Dear Sister,
A few years ago I made a weekend retreat with you at Berakha in Pittsfield, NH. I was so happy to learn of your blog. Monday is always a day to look for some inspiring words from you. I also so enjoy the music you select as well as the opportunity to listen to many other songs.
Thank you for keeping us nourished with your wonderful insights. You are a woman of prayer and reflection to put out such profound thoughts.
God bless you in all you do and especially are. Keep up the great work.
Many are hungering for this.
Sr. Jeannette Roy

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Ed Johnson January 8, 2018 at 7:54 am

Thank you, Sister, for your wonderful thoughts and insights…….and the strong self-discipline that comes with your weekly commitment. I love Audrey Assad; a wonderful choice to begin the new year. Her rendition of “Winter Snow” is one of my favorites. Blessings in 2018!
Ed J.

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Susan January 8, 2018 at 7:57 am

I discovered your blog through Living Faith.
I look forward to reading your blog each Monday morning and I have signed up friends and family as well. With their permission of course!

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Sunnie Poplar January 8, 2018 at 8:28 am

I too found you years ago in Living Faith and then Give Us This Day. It seems I catch you in publications everywhere lately. I’ll be reading an article that really touches my soul and say to myself, I bet this is Sr. Melannie, and it is. I have also had the pleasure of hearing you speak in person twice. Thank you for your dedication to this wonderful blog, all the traveling you do to share your stories, your books, and most of all, for just being you. Wishing you a blessed New Year.

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Carol L January 8, 2018 at 8:33 am

Thank you, Sister Melannie, for today’s blog, all the preceding blogs and those yet to come. Today’s blog was soothing to my jangled spirit this morning! I had seen your wwriting in Living Faith but didn’t know about your blog. As I shared with you at your Leavenworth, KS retreat, a dear friend, who also attended the retreat, forwarded your blog to me and I signed up. I look forward to it eagerly every Monday. Thank you for sharing your creative process with us. Today I ask for prayers for my brother in law Scott who is hospitalized for heart problems , high blood pressure and renal failure. He is having a heart cath today. Also please pray for our priest, Fr Pat, who is having hand surgery today. The song on the blog was so beautiful and appropriate for the artic blasts we are experiencing! Blessings to you and all your readers

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John Hopkins January 8, 2018 at 8:35 am

Lovely to read of your blog “origin” story, Sr. Melannie. Your online presence is a cyber-gift to so many!

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Linda January 8, 2018 at 8:46 am

Good morning Sr. Melanie!
The children here in North East Ohio have no school today. Brrrr
Many years ago, I went to one of your retreats in Louisville, Ohio.
A Sister of Notre Dame, at St. Joseph Senior Living, introduced your blog to me. I’m so glad she did. Your books and blogs inspire me!
Than you

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Char January 8, 2018 at 8:48 am

Good Morning ☀️
Living Faith is where I found you, along w/ Joyce Rupp you both touch my ❤️ heart. Monday mornings I open my IPad and look forward to your blog. Blessings for A Happy & Healthy 2018.
Char

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Barbara January 8, 2018 at 8:52 am

So many things that you mention I feel kin to so thank you for that. I love the written word and HAVE TO read every day–my brain requires it. As many above have written I first saw your name in the Living Faith (still continue every morning with that being my first read of the day). I love music and that is another thing I need every day. When I read something I totally “get” and want to read again, I cut it out and save it. Gratitude, love and joy make my day so again, thanks.

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Roseann January 8, 2018 at 8:54 am

Thank you, Sr. Melannie, for your wonderful reflections and meditations shared with all. I too have read your meditations in Living Faith from the “beginning”. I currently subscribe to the Magnificat but have not seen any of your reflections there. Will you be contributing to that publication in the future? I sincerely hope so.

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Kathleen January 8, 2018 at 9:13 am

Good Morning Sr. Melanie,

I discovered your blog through Living Faith. I so enjoy reading your insights.

God bless you.

Kathleen

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June January 8, 2018 at 9:22 am

I also began reading your blog from Living Faith. I too always look forward to Mondays to read your newest words of inspiration, see your photos and see which song you’ve chosen. I also enjoy the comments people make! We should always remember that were all in this together after all! Prayers.

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Nancy Connor January 8, 2018 at 9:41 am

I started reading your blog because I was so inspired with your contributions to Living Faith. I was always so happy to see your name as the author of that day’s reading. God bless and keep inspiring us!

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Joy martin January 8, 2018 at 9:45 am

You have always touched my Soul…
I pause & think about your words…
Thank you…

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Cheryl Z January 8, 2018 at 10:16 am

Hi Sr. Melannie,
I heard you speak at a Catholic women’s conference in Chicope MA. I loved your talk and you were so warm and funny! I’m sure you mentioned your blog then and I’ve been a fan ever since. God bless!

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Bevely January 8, 2018 at 10:37 am

You are such an inspiration to me! Thank you for saying “yes” to this blog. It has given me many moments of pause to think about how I am living my life. You have made me better, Sr Melanie. Thank you!
I began reading you through Living Faith.

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Ann January 8, 2018 at 10:39 am

Good morning, Melannie !
My introduction to you was at a Villa Maria retreat a few years ago. Since then I continue to enjoy your weekly blog and am delighted when I see your contributions/inspirations in Give Us This Day and Living Faith.
Thank Sr. Susan for me/us for encouraging you to write a blog and thank you for responding and continuing to share your inspirations.

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Susan Sandberg January 8, 2018 at 10:41 am

Thank you Sr. Melanie for writing your blog and for sharing your love of God with us!
My husband and I are both “66” years old and we are caring for our oldest daughter at home who is physically disabled with Cerebral Palsy, and who is ,also, mentally challenged with Bipolar Depression.
Needless to say, every morning, ( and every Monday morning), I look forward to online daily scripture readings, meditations, etc. I am home pretty much all the time and I use the computer for some of my “socialization”. It brings me hope and love from God, if you will, from all of you “earthly angels” that inspire us to love, pray, persevere, and to be patient with our life’s journey.
Thank you again, sister, and I hope that you never have any doubts as to the impact you have on our lives, and if you ever question if you are doing God’s will…
God bless you, Sr. Melanie 🙂

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Beverly January 8, 2018 at 10:44 am

You are such an inspiration to me! Thank you for saying “yes” to writing the blog. It has given me many moments for pause to think about how I am living my life. You have made me better!
I began reading your blog from Living Faith.
I am posting this again…hope it does not show up twice

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Shirley January 8, 2018 at 11:24 am

Good morning Sister, I started following you after finding you in the Living Faith. I have my quiet time every morning with God and Living Faith is part of my devotions. I am so glad I found you as I truly enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work! Happy New Year and Blessings to you!

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Dae January 8, 2018 at 11:29 am

I first learned about you in Living Faith. One of my favorite teachers in California while in High School was a Sister of Notre Dame. and so I was drawn to you right away and have never been disappointed. I have gained so much from your blog and writings and now see you in Give Us This Day.
Thank you for inspiring us. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.

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Suzanne Sayer January 8, 2018 at 11:34 am

Sister Melanie, I, too, first encountered your writings in Living Faith. I think I learned about your blog when I attended a day-long retreat with you in Richardson, Texas. It is always a treat to see what you’ve created on Monday mornings. I am reading this a little late in the morning today, but it seems that today’s blog has elicited more responses than normal. So many people who are touched by you.
When I was in high school, I worked one summer for the local newspaper. I met a lovely woman there who was a writer. I discovered recently that she has a blog–and she is 100 years old! May you write for many more years–thank you for giving us the blessings of your insights.

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Frances January 8, 2018 at 11:44 am

Your blog is a bright spot on Monday mornings! Thank you. I’m hoping this will reach you.

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Carol Elsholz January 8, 2018 at 11:44 am

Sr. Melanie,
I have met you often in “Living with Christ,” and, like many others, I knew you were the one writing the little meditation before I saw your name. … Thanks for giving us the gift of your voice. I am new to your Blog, and so happy I found you. Happy New Year. Carol

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Barb January 8, 2018 at 11:45 am

Sr. Melanie, it wouldn’t be a Monday without you. I believe you and Sr. Susan have a love of sunflowers. I don’t remember how I started following you two years ago but I have borrowed some of your quotes which I send to my kids everyday and recently bought your suggestions for children’s books for gifts. The music is a happy ending to your inspirational words. God Bless and keep writing.

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Thomas DeFreitas January 8, 2018 at 11:52 am

Sister Melannie, your diligence and enthusiasm are an inspiration and an incentive!

I honestly can’t recall exactly how I discovered your blog; the chronology’s somewhat muddled in my mind. I think I found one of your books first, or an especially potent article in Give Us This Day. Then I googled, or your blog was mentioned at the end of the article!

Am grateful for all that you do!

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Roberta Greenawalt January 8, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Dear Sister, You are a special gift. Your blogs—enlightening. They provide much food for thought, stories that grip the heart, wisdom to act.
Your music selections—each one perfect for your blog. You have broadened my world of song,too.
Thank you for all the wisdom, energy, time and love you share.
A special thanks to Sister Susan Wolf for suggesting you start writing a blog.
Blessings,
Roberta Greenawalt

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Patty January 8, 2018 at 1:52 pm

Sister – I began reading your blog after reading your reflections in Living Faith. Both have served to enrich my life. Thank you.

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PAM GUNN January 8, 2018 at 2:23 pm

I look forward to your blog every Monday. A great way to start the week..I feel peace and tranquility..Also enjoy your words of wisdom in Living Faith..

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Gloria January 8, 2018 at 3:01 pm

I don’t remember how I discovered your blog, but it may have been through Living Faith. Thank you for sharing the story of starting the blog and how you continue it! I also appreciate the beautiful music that you include – God bless you and your endeavors!

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Julie Grote, osf,Tiffin January 8, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Melanie, I cherish your Sunflower Seeds postings. I have also been inspired by your book “Traits of a Healthy Spirituality”-a small group of us discussed this taking a topic at a time. I also loved your books “When the Moon Slips Away” May God bless you abundantly for sharing all of this wisdom and love!

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Patty Davidson January 8, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Gracious Goodness!
~ Thank you ~

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Helen larkins January 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm

I look forward to your blog every Monday and sometimes forward it to my family and friends. Thanks for letting us know about creating and writing a blog. Enjoyed it very much. God bless you!
Helen

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Chris Keil January 8, 2018 at 8:28 pm

Well, I think I have everyone beat!!!!! I have “followed” you so to speak since being one of your students MANY years ago! I have always enjoyed reading your reflections in all the publications you mentioned as well as your books. I’ve enjoyed listening to your talks, when you make to Texas!
Thank you for your insight and reflections on everyday things and life. I have shared your blog with many friends! Thank yiu and Goc Bless you.

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Chris Keil January 8, 2018 at 8:35 pm

Should have spell checked! Sorry! My English teacher would be very disappointed!!!!!

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Ann Marie January 8, 2018 at 8:50 pm

Learned about your blog from my sister in Columbus, Ohio what a blessing it has been. Thank you!

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Odelia Kloc January 8, 2018 at 8:52 pm

Dear Melanie, I read your blog every week but don’t usually comment. I am a Music therapist and I have always loved this song, How can I keep from Singing? But I haven’the sung it lately. And I was touched by the line”No storm can shake my inner calm” because I have been suffering from sciatica pain since July and this past week it got worse along with 2 other health issues and although I cry out to God to heal me, It is difficult to keep accepting this even while getting medical help. Please say a prayer for me. Thank you. Odelia

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anita compagnone January 8, 2018 at 9:20 pm

Hi Sister Melannie
your blog has inspired me and deepened my faith. For that I am so grateful. Nita

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Terry Corr January 8, 2018 at 9:48 pm

Sr. Melanie, I too learned about your blog through my subscription to Give Us This Day. You’re going to think this is funny but for some reason I get more out of nun blogs than that of religious men. Your writings are more spiritual, heart-felt, and down-to-earth. Combined with your years of experience as an educator and evangelizer I find your variety of topics and messages authentic, sometimes funny, and interesting. Thank you so much for your time in composing your weekly blogs and now I’ll have to check out what other songs Audrey Assad sings. How can WE keep from reading?

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Diane January 8, 2018 at 11:09 pm

I read your reflection in Give Us This Day several years ago and then tried your blog! I enjoy getting it every Monday morning! It’s perfectly down to earth and spiritual; a few of your songs have been quite a blessing I.e “Be Born In Me”! Thank you for so many blessings!

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Diane Clay January 9, 2018 at 8:24 am

Perfect song and reminder that we have a hope and a promise that outshine every darkness.

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Melannie Svoboda SND January 9, 2018 at 2:15 pm

Dear Everyone, Thank you so much for your stories and your positive remarks about my blog. I appreciated all of them! In whatever way you found my blog, I’m glad you did!
For those requesting prayers, be assured of my prayers and the prayers of many readers for you and your loved ones.
This particular post received the most responses I think I have ever received. Thanks again! And feel free to continue the responses below! Gratefully, Melannie

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Sue January 9, 2018 at 11:11 pm

I started reading your blogs after one of your retreats in Dallas.
I am always amazed at the subjects you come up with.
Thank you for bringing sunshine into my life every Monday.
God bless you.

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Kit January 10, 2018 at 9:01 am

Hi Sister, I too discovered your blog through Living Faith. I do not always get to it on a Monday and sometimes save the reading as a special treat for myself later in the week. I appreciate the time you take to share your thoughts with others in this way. I see the songs you find as a gift to your readers. Thank you for helping me to keep in mind the daily ways God is at work in us, in our lives, and in our world. As a doctoral student I do not currently read much for pleasure but your blog is always something I make time for.
Thanks for sharing this part of yourself with us!

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Elizabeth January 11, 2018 at 7:47 am

Melannie, I am a fan from way back. Made a retreat years ago and from then until now you have been declared a favorite of mine. Also have read several of your books. Love them. I read myself out of many conflicts in my life. Your words, thoughts have helped me so much. I thank you. Looking forward to another retreat some day in my area, which I hope will happen. Blessings, Elizabeth

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Josita January 11, 2018 at 9:06 am

Hi Melannie,
I can’t remember exactly when I began enjoying your blogs…at least 5 years. I, too, discovered ” you ” through Living Faith, and was happy to meet you at Georgian Ct. in NJ a few years ago.
I look forward to your inspiring thoughts and practical insights every Monday.
God give you the grace to continue to touch the lives of sooo any people .
Love, Josita

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Fran McCreary January 11, 2018 at 10:26 am

Like many of the others, I too found your blog through Living Faith in early 2013. And today it surprises me how readily I can recognize a reflection that has been written by you! I discovered your blog during a difficult time in life when I spent 3 years traveling 200 miles a week to help my father care for my mother during a final illness. Your blog was a constant source of inspiration, prayer, joy & sometimes just laughter for which I am grateful. (PS – i’m the reader who made your mother’s plum dumpling recipe for my Ohio-born Bohemian mother. She loved them!).

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Georgia Auckly January 12, 2018 at 9:53 am

Thank you for this blog Sister Melanie! I love everything about it including the name, “Sunflower Seeds”! I love the way you write of the ordinary and sometimes the not so ordinary. Your thoughts, reflections, wisdom and research make for a very enjoyable and thought-provoking read! I love the songs, and notes about them also. I discovered your blog in my Give Us This Day books. I have shared your blog with friends and relatives also. I look forward to it on Mondays and hope that you keep on writing and never run out of inspiration or ideas! (I don’t think you will).

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Mary Ellen Jackson January 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm

I learned about your blog from one of your sisters, Sr. Carole McHenry, who facilitated our book study at St. Michael. Our group gave you a prayer shawl when you visited us and you talked to us about your books of poetry. I especially remember the one about your mother’s apron and how it should be kissed when put on as the priest does his stole when he is vesting. My week hinges on your blog. Love it! It’s so helpful to know the ordinary has spiritual value. Please know how important your gift is.

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Laura Torres January 13, 2018 at 3:21 pm

I discovered you from Give Us This Day a year ago.
My New Years resolution in 2017 was to reflect and read more Scripture and your reflection led me to your blog.
God bless you for your words..it inspires me

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Ann January 13, 2018 at 5:52 pm

My sister told me about your blogs,very inspiritional. Oh, St. Felicitas School still stands.

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SHIRL January 16, 2018 at 4:50 pm

YOUR BLOG IS MY WAY OF STAYING IN TOUCH WITH YOUR SPIRITUAL WRITINGS. I CAME TO KNOW YOU THRU MY RETREATS AT THE PRECIOUS BLOOD CENTER IN COLUMBIA, PA. I HATED TO SEE IT CLOSE SINCE IT WAS A HALF HR. FROM MY HOUSE. THE LAST I SAW YOU WAS AT THE JESUIT CTR IN WERNERSVILLE,PA. DO YOU EVER GET THIS WAY ANYMORE FOR RETREATS?
I HAVE YOUR BOOKS TO READ AND MEDITATE ON.
THANKS FOR YOUR INSPIRATION.

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MaryJo January 22, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Sr. Mellanie, I found you in Living Faith and from there your blog. I am so very grateful. God seems to take me to just the right place at just the right time. I am deeply touched by your writings and your music. God Bless.

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