How Much Can You Say in Six Words?

by Melannie Svoboda SND on December 31, 2018

Legend has it that the writer Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a short story in six words. (Some say the legend is probably not true.) Nevertheless, the six-word story attributed to him is this poignant one:

For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

Over the years, other writers rose to the challenge and produced these examples of “flash fiction” as it is sometimes called:

Ring. Church. Groom. “Where is she?”

They lived happily ever after, separately.

Dinner for two, widower and memories.

Alcohol brought us together, and apart.

Recovery never really ends, does it?

Several years ago, Regina Brett, former columnist for The Cleveland Plain Dealer, challenged her readers to write a memoir in six words. Here are a few her readers submitted:

Student of life; child of God.

Still having fun…

Seventy-one, and still having fun!

Child. Mother. Grandmother. Tried my best.

Been there, done that, what next?

Found the answer: Live, love, listen.

Divorced single mom, praying, forgiving, persevering!

Unemployed writer, looking for white space.

To mark her 51st wedding anniversary, one woman wrote: Passed silver. Passed gold. Anticipating diamond.

Brett’s favorite one was: Won some. Lost some. Still winsome.

A few years back, an article in Reader’s Digest (Feb. ’09) contained excerpts from the book, Six-Word Memoirs on Love and Heartbreak. Here are a few memoirs from that book:

Where he is, I am home.

Love…

Love: eight pounds and six ounces.

In hindsight, I’d still choose you.

Moved in. No ring. Moved out.

Hired me. Fired me. Married me.

My life’s accomplishments? Sanity, and you.

What about you? I invite you to try to say something meaningful in six words. It can be a story, a memoir, or even a bumper sticker. Or what about a six-word prayer? When I taught high school English and creative writing, I often did the assignments I gave my students—so I would appreciate the work (and the fun!) that was often involved. So, I will conclude this reflection with a few of my own attempts to say something meaningful in six words.

Six-word prayers:

Dear God. It’s me. Help! Amen.

Fun-loving God, please tickle my fancy.

Speak to me, Lord. Please enunciate.

Thank You for puppies and strawberries.

Here is a six-word description of my prayer life: Ordinary, mostly. Amazing, occasionally. Daily, always.

I wrote this inscription for my tombstone years ago: She was lucky—and she knew it. (I know, that’s seven words!)

Snow…

Here’s a poem I wrote a while ago. It’s called “Snow”: Glad it falls in flakes—not balls. (I know… that’s seven words again…)

Now it’s your turn to try to write something in six words. It can be serious, funny, profound, poignant, mysterious, or whatever. If you want to label your six words (short story, memoir, prayer, epitaph) that’s fine. But you don’t have to. And to encourage responses, I am giving away a FREE copy of my little book, The Lord is My Shepherd, to one lucky person. I will put in a bag the names of all those who respond to this week’s blog in any way and draw the name of the lucky winner. Deadline for responses is January 5, 2019 midnight (EST).  Winner will be announced on my blog next Monday, January 7th. I eagerly look forward to your responses below! I’m sure my readers will enjoy them too!

I want to wish all of you a very Happy, Healthy, and Holy New Year! I am holding each of you in special prayer. Thank you so much for reading my blog!

Jesus once described himself in six words: “The Way, the Truth, the Life.” Here is a beautiful song based on those six words. It’s called “The Way” and is sung by Pat Barrett. It’s an appropriate song to sing as we journey through the New Year.

Please respond to this reflection and/or song below. I also welcome your six-word stories, memoirs, prayers, or whatever! If you respond below, you will automatically be entered in the contest to win that free book!

{ 158 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas DeFreitas December 31, 2018 at 6:14 am

THE SEASONS

Snow blossoms from cold black branches.

Petals flurry from shrubs and trees.

Brute sun shrills a strident gospel.

Leaves blaze red. Hurt nerves cool.

SELF-PORTRAIT 1

I have belly. I am belly.

SELF-PORTRAIT 2

Year fifty. Mirror looks like Dad.

SELF-PORTRAIT 3

Stumbled often. Grace, love, still happened.

PRAYER

Holy One, be mercy in me.

Reply

Mary Lutz December 31, 2018 at 8:24 am

Be still and know I’m God…
Lord, grant me patience, but HURRY!
Don’t count sheep, follow the Shepherd.
Still newlyweds, still honeymooning? You bet!
Family…his, mine, ours…together, GOD’S!
Trust HIM! He trusts us, right?!?
Know, love and serve God…always!
Our Father who art in heaven…

Reply

Jim Opalek December 31, 2018 at 11:04 am

Formula for JOY: Jesus, Others, Yourself .

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Janet Schaeffler December 31, 2018 at 6:18 am

Live passionately; love reverently; laugh gratefully.

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Ann December 31, 2018 at 6:30 am

Best prayer: Thy will be done.

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John Hopkins December 31, 2018 at 6:34 am

Leaves gone, it holds the sky.

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Lou Hoeschen December 31, 2018 at 6:38 am

The duty of the moment done with love.

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Michelle Rabb January 2, 2019 at 11:51 am

Lou, thank you! So often done with love with no love in return. But Jesus told us we must love! He loved me so much He died for me! I am grateful, there are no other words. Grateful!

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Mary Anne Ruane December 31, 2018 at 6:41 am

OK, God…..What are you thinking?

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Anne Marie Vencill December 31, 2018 at 6:42 am

Trying to live my best me.

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Karen December 31, 2018 at 6:43 am

Self portrait:
Sympathetic heart. hardheaded mind. Constant battle.

Today:
Grateful for a cat’s warm purring.

Epitaph:
Often gets in her own way.

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Susan's December 31, 2018 at 7:13 am

Martha or Mary? Always a struggle.

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Michelle January 1, 2019 at 12:06 pm

Mary or Martha? Both a blessing!

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Gail Checkett December 31, 2018 at 7:14 am

Who Am I?
I am a child of God.

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Theresa A. Casey December 31, 2018 at 7:28 am

Today’s song reflects mine:
“GOD: my way, truth, life.”

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Betty December 31, 2018 at 7:31 am

My life, nudged, held, hugged, loved!

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John Chott December 31, 2018 at 7:35 am

Jesus came. He loved. He saved.

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Mary December 31, 2018 at 7:39 am

Self Portrait:
Constantly seeking unwavering trust in God.

Short Story:
Fear not. Call on Jesus. PEACE.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit. Provide health. Use me.

Epitaph:
She hugged the world. No sweat.

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Patricia Szarowicz December 31, 2018 at 7:40 am

Be aware of God Hugs, always!

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Mary December 31, 2018 at 7:54 am

Life comes in one-minute intervals.

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Pat December 31, 2018 at 7:55 am

You are walking by my side.

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Melanie Ebert December 31, 2018 at 8:24 am

Life in progress, guide me Lord

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June December 31, 2018 at 8:26 am

You, me, happy to be!

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Jeanne December 31, 2018 at 8:29 am

Poor,homeless,lonely,sick. I weep

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Micki December 31, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Praying you feel His comforting arms.

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Janeen Sharp December 31, 2018 at 8:31 am

I’m grateful, Lord. Keep it up!

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Ilene December 31, 2018 at 8:36 am

Life is a challenge, be positive.

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Beverly Palumbo December 31, 2018 at 8:36 am

To be in You, dear God

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Beverly Palumbo December 31, 2018 at 8:38 am

To be inYou, dear God

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Chris Keil December 31, 2018 at 8:43 am

Fun loving. Loving fun. Loving life!

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Kathy Donnermeyer December 31, 2018 at 8:51 am

Enjoying all the others, adding mine.

Me:
Wife, Mother, Quilter,
Child of God

Prayers
Mini Thomas Merton:
Only have desire to please God.

Mini suscipe of St. Ignatius:
Take me, Lord
Grace is enough.

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Thomas DeFreitas January 1, 2019 at 4:04 am

I cherish the six-word Suscipe!

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Kathy Donnermeyer January 2, 2019 at 6:20 am

Thanks! Easier to remember in a pinch than the entire thing. 🙂

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Deb R. December 31, 2018 at 8:52 am

Let us draw near to Him!

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Ann Kernan December 31, 2018 at 8:55 am

My Shepherd, stopping, holding, caressing, tenderly!

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jack canatsey December 31, 2018 at 8:56 am

He Died, He Rose, We Won !

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Mary Nausadis December 31, 2018 at 8:57 am

Study much; act kindly; love big!

Bear children; bear heartache; reap love!

Tears in joy, thank you God!

Tears in pain; much to gain!

Head, heart, hands, feet I give!

Reply

Joan December 31, 2018 at 8:58 am

Sunrise. Grace to live another day.

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Marie Mombleau December 31, 2018 at 8:59 am

Happy. Sad. Forgiven. Thank you God!

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Jean Canatsey December 31, 2018 at 9:02 am

Epithah
Hospitable….Her door was always open.
Memoir
Rocker….fireplace….dog….quiet. It’s good.

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Shirley December 31, 2018 at 9:10 am

Love Jesus, Have Faith, Live Life!

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Deb December 31, 2018 at 9:21 am

Holy Spirit’s guidance: wealth of gold.

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Kate A December 31, 2018 at 9:21 am

French Proverb
Gratitude-the memory of the heart.

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Cheryl December 31, 2018 at 9:25 am

Alcohol. A blessing and a curse.

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Thomas DeFreitas January 1, 2019 at 4:06 am

Powerful! Thank you much for posting!

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Nita Compagnone December 31, 2018 at 9:39 am

2019

The beginning of a new book.

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Thomas DeFreitas January 1, 2019 at 4:07 am

Beautiful and timely. Let us begin!

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Char December 31, 2018 at 9:47 am

God so Loves Us Be Happy

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Marie Gallagher December 31, 2018 at 9:48 am

God, daughter, friend, wife, mother, always

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Angela Giaimo December 31, 2018 at 9:54 am

Wet clay, being molded, destination masterpiece!

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Ginger Haug December 31, 2018 at 10:01 am

Dog, woman’s best friend.Thanks God

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Carol December 31, 2018 at 10:09 am

Finding my place in the cosmos

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Rhonda Crews December 31, 2018 at 10:10 am

Little hands become big too fast.

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Margaret December 31, 2018 at 10:28 am

Look, Listen, Love, Little child singing.

Reply

Ed Johnson December 31, 2018 at 10:28 am

Memoir:
Son, Husband, Father, Grandfather; How Awesome

Reply

Pete December 31, 2018 at 10:29 am

Lord? Thank you. I am blessed.

Reply

Heather Wilson December 31, 2018 at 10:44 am

Make me Your hands and feet.

I’ve a good life: scattering joy.

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Rebekah December 31, 2018 at 10:55 am

Wandering the path. Looking for signposts.

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Thomas DeFreitas January 1, 2019 at 4:08 am

May your search be always graced …

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Beverly December 31, 2018 at 11:12 am

Epitaph: Didn’t always succeed; but, always tried.

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Jean Carol Schloss December 31, 2018 at 11:29 am

Born. Lived. Loved. Died. Saved. Thanks.

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Jerry December 31, 2018 at 11:31 am

Can’t be young, can be immature.

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Sr. Sue December 31, 2018 at 11:34 am

Birds fly. Butterflies fly. I soar.

Look in the mirror see God.

Baby smiles. God smiles. We rejoice.

The days lengthen and I rejoice.

Be still for I am God.

Embrace. Hold hands. We are one.

Mercy. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Family of God.

One world. One atmosphere. One people.

Love one another as I love you.

Reply

Thomas DeFreitas January 1, 2019 at 4:09 am

A marvelous sequence. Blessings to you!

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Joe Johnson December 31, 2018 at 11:41 am

Good Wife; Good Life; Good Lord!

Mental Health: Awareness! Understanding! Empathy! Action!

Dear God!! I’m Drowning! Save Me!!!

Living in the moment, I’m complete!!

Dude: Attitude of Gratitude At Any Latitude!

Just For Now- Let It Go!

My Religion? Love is my Religion!

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Carol O December 31, 2018 at 11:46 am

Loved, loved, loved the song today!
Trying to be God’s ambassador of Joy!

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Micki December 31, 2018 at 11:47 am

Used to worry. Now I TRUST.

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Maureen December 31, 2018 at 11:48 am

Emmanuel! God is with us always.

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Deb S. December 31, 2018 at 11:49 am

My goal: Seek His face always.
Our mom. She loved us completely.

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Diane December 31, 2018 at 11:51 am

With Jesus, I am truly blessed!

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joan metzger December 31, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Trust in God sets me free!

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Christine December 31, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Mystery~Benevolence~Hatred~Coexistence~Prevailing Winds

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Sandy Me December 31, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Seeking Always there in my heart

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Sandy December 31, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Seeking Always there in my heart

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Jean December 31, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Sister Melannie,
Once again your blog speaks volumes to all.
Thank you for these Monday readings and thoughts.
Happy New Year!

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michelle couture December 31, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Day by day. I get older !

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The Cool C December 31, 2018 at 3:40 pm

Thoughts, Words, Actions, Habits, Character, Destiny!

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rita rings December 31, 2018 at 12:39 pm

Graced, Humble Sisters, Save our Church.

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carol elsholz December 31, 2018 at 1:02 pm

We are all made of Stardust!

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Barb Lee December 31, 2018 at 12:59 pm

New Year, New Horizons, Same God!

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Lin December 31, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Observation
A coveted book, many hopeful responses!

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Nancy Goldsworthy December 31, 2018 at 2:01 pm

I CAN DO ANYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE

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Esther L. December 31, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Listen, need, respond . Joyful heart!

Ask, send prayers, give thanks.

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Colleen December 31, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Love, Surrender, Jesus, moment by moment

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Allie December 31, 2018 at 2:39 pm

New Year. New Hope. New Dreams.

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Linda December 31, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Peace, joy, forgiveness, love, presence: GOD.

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The Cool C December 31, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Thoughts, Words, Actions, Habits, Character, Destiny

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Rose Anne December 31, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Lord,please be with me always.

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Ann Marie Bushong December 31, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Daughter. Sister. Wife. Friend. Grateful. Blessed.

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Suzanne December 31, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Blessed, graced and beloved of God!

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Barbara December 31, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Give me joy. Thank you Jesus.

God gives love. I give kindness.

God is Holy. God is Love.

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Donna December 31, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Smith Mountain Lake…is this heaven?

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Rita Maglio December 31, 2018 at 5:28 pm

With God, All Things are Possible

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Dorothy December 31, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Be calm. Rest in the Lord.

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Fran R. December 31, 2018 at 7:38 pm

Past gratitude present passion future hope

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Marla December 31, 2018 at 7:43 pm

Golden, purring, warm ball of fur.

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Marla December 31, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Love and Grace enough for me.

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Janet December 31, 2018 at 8:36 pm

God

Time can’t erase either can man.

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Annmarie December 31, 2018 at 8:39 pm

RELAX: Really Enjoy Hugging And Kissing

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Ellen Nash December 31, 2018 at 9:03 pm

YOU are all I need LORD!

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Linda December 31, 2018 at 9:36 pm

Feed all birds on Christmas Day.
(St. Francis)

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Joni Dugan December 31, 2018 at 10:12 pm

Take me Lord, I’m all yours!

Thanks Melanie for all you do and who you are!
Joni (the suscipe is still ingrained in my heart and soul)

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Suzanne Burke December 31, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Anytime, anywhere, I’d choose you again.

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Dotty Fink December 31, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Dear Sister Melanie, I’m the lady who sent Regina the: “Passed Silver, Passed Gold, Anticipating Diamond” Now…………

Ten years ago – now passed 61!

Loved your asking God to “enunciate!”

Thanks for everything; Happy New Year!

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Meyers Lynn January 1, 2019 at 1:53 am

Followup Mammogram clear. Thank you Lord!

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Mary J Fitzgerald January 1, 2019 at 2:17 am

Thief I stole your broken heart

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Susan Bachner January 1, 2019 at 6:21 am

Act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly.
My daily mantra. I pray that God is always beside me in this life.

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Tim Andersen January 1, 2019 at 6:33 am

Egoectomy helps me love my neighbor.

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Kathy January 1, 2019 at 7:49 am

Keep going. The prize is near.

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Missy Butler January 1, 2019 at 9:48 am

My destination the kingdom of God
See Him be Him with everyone
Awsome power above humbly manifested Love

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Missy January 1, 2019 at 10:00 am

Sunset God tucking his children in
Struck rock twice please forgive me

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Missy January 1, 2019 at 10:06 am

Absent child unspeakable grief Mary knows

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Ellie January 1, 2019 at 11:17 am

Live in love; Christ loves us.

Thank you God for Sister Melanie!

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Josita January 1, 2019 at 11:19 am

Friend: loving, sincere, constant. Thank you!

God’s blessings to you in 2019 and always, dear Melannie.

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Susan January 1, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Welcome the stranger: peace, joy, love!

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K. C. Murphy January 1, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Struggling
persevering
trusting
in you
God

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Ilene January 1, 2019 at 10:06 pm

Powerful choice of words. Good mantra for survivors. Make God number one in your life.

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Michelle January 1, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Bear all with patience and love.

My scripture mantra:
Rest in God alone, my soul.

Perfect moment:
God, me, a cup of tea!

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Sr. Myra Gilbart January 1, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Emmanuel God is with us here.

Thank you for your insights and for this lovely exercise. I will share this with my community and students.

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Ginny Reinardy January 1, 2019 at 12:41 pm

No golden years, only golden moments!

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NANCY L TEDER January 1, 2019 at 1:07 pm

Love God. Be grateful. Be happy!

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Roseann January 1, 2019 at 1:52 pm

Jesus, make me worthy.

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Fran January 1, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Love, children, lost, found strength, God

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Dolores January 1, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Please Lord give me your answer.

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Kathy Valentino January 1, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Start with God. Go from there.

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Glenda January 1, 2019 at 6:49 pm

My mom died, just before Christmas.
The loss resides in my heart.
Pain, causing debilitating fatigue and sadness.
Blessings for me…faith, family, friends.
God’s Promises, family’s hugs, friends’ calls.
Lifting me gently, toward New Year.

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Deb S. January 1, 2019 at 11:18 pm

Sending hugs of comfort and peace.
Let light perpetual shine upon her.

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Joanne Bennardo January 1, 2019 at 7:12 pm

Thank you, Gracious God, I hurt.

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Jennifer January 1, 2019 at 7:52 pm

Be mindful of others and yourself.

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Monique Couture, FCSCJ January 1, 2019 at 7:55 pm

New Year — Wonder, Trust, Hope, Love!

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Patti Lape January 1, 2019 at 8:52 pm

Healing opportunities are possible every day !

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kathleen noftsker January 1, 2019 at 9:46 pm

God is love…God is mystery

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Ilene January 1, 2019 at 10:22 pm

Thank you Sr. Melanie,
For providing such a beautiful blog. In spite of suffering, we praise God. I appreciate the faith expressed on this site. With only six words, we pick each other up allowing the Holy Spirit to make beauy out of ashes.

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Carol K. January 2, 2019 at 4:27 am

Live life, with few, if any, regrets.

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Ann Munnik January 2, 2019 at 6:56 am

renewed blessings of my first great-grandchild

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Christella Ritchey January 2, 2019 at 8:51 am

God gifts us abundantly every day.

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Pamela Freshcorn January 2, 2019 at 11:23 am

In my need, he’s there indeed!

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Michelle Rabb January 2, 2019 at 11:26 am

Dearest Sr. Melanni, thank you for your beautiful post. What a gray way to start a new year! Blessings! M.

What, again? I do forgive you.

Breathe me, Lord. Ruah! Breathe me.

75 gone; what will 76 bring?

The Lord is my Shepherd. Alleluia!!

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christella Ritchey January 2, 2019 at 12:35 pm

God gifts us abundantly each day

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Helen January 2, 2019 at 3:14 pm

Hospice ministry: Compassionate listening, Profound learning

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Carolyn January 2, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Life’s depressing darkness God’s faithful light

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Annette Smith January 2, 2019 at 6:26 pm

God, my #1 always all the way!

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Tom January 2, 2019 at 7:55 pm

My portion, cup, prize, delight, heritage!

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Maureen Crosby January 3, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Mission. Ministry. Immigrants. Freedom. Peace. Love,

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Marilyn January 3, 2019 at 12:03 pm

Master painter paints each morning sky!

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Regina January 3, 2019 at 7:33 pm

From outside, squeezing inside, losting tides.

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Regina January 3, 2019 at 7:37 pm

Editing post: From outside, squeezing inside, loosing tides.

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Amy @ Love and Be Loved January 4, 2019 at 9:57 am

Hi Sr. Melanie! Thanks for keeping this blog going. I really appreciate your posts. And I love this one on writing. The one memoir “student of life, child of God” felt like I wrote it for myself!

Here are my six words:

Open Mind ~ Open Heart ~ Open Body

Many blessings!

Amy

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Pat Malik January 4, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Beautiful life. Messy life. All mine.

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Domenica January 4, 2019 at 8:54 pm

There is always hope with Jesus.

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~AnneH~ January 4, 2019 at 10:58 pm

Grace upon your path each day.

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Margaret Grot January 5, 2019 at 10:25 am

Love is all there is. Amen

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Annie January 5, 2019 at 11:55 pm

Hey, Dad! How’s heaven? Miss you!

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Millie January 7, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Stories old, stories new, truth fulfilled.
The Bible

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Kathi January 7, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Make me whole. Hold my hand.

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frank January 10, 2019 at 5:10 am

Sinned much, forgiven more, learning love.

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Rosetta Rizzo January 12, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Reply to “Seventy-one and still having fun!”
Seventy-two and still not through!

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Cindy January 15, 2019 at 4:29 pm

I am 70 I embrace change

Reply

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