Hope Chronicles: Mellie Blake

Welcome to the final day of The Hope Chronicles.

The Hope Chronicles is a blog hop and journal between 5 historical romance authors. Our desire is to bring you lasting hope through these letters, grounded in the hope of our Lord that does not disappoint, and written from the fictional viewpoints of each book’s heroine. We’re so glad to have you join the event. Each day this week, a new Hope Chronicles post will go live, complete with a journal entry and a new giveaway for that blog post.

Today’s entry comes from Lt. Mellie Blake, US Army Nurse Corps, written on February 22, 1943 from Oran, Algeria, where she has just landed in order to serve as a flight nurse for wounded Allied soldiers in North Africa. Mellie is the heroine of my most recent novel, With Every Letter (Revell, September 2012), Book 1 in the Wings of the Nightingale series.

Anna at work

Here is a copy of Mellie’s entry in the Hope Chronicles journal and the nightingale drawn in the journal by my talented daughter, Anna…

The Greater Hope: Mellie’s Letter

Dear Papa,

My heart sings with the joy of hope fulfilled, muted by the tension of hope deferred. Today I received a letter from the Red Cross stating you are alive but in a Japanese prison camp for civilians at Santo Tomas in the Philippines.

At last I can write you! However, the Japanese allow only a paltry twenty-four words in the body of the letter, so I’ll express the rest of my thoughts on these pages instead.

Over a year has passed since the Japanese invaded the Philippines, and even longer since you persuaded me to return stateside. If only I’d convinced you to join me, but I know my botanist father would never leave when his favorite flowers are in bloom.

Flight nurses in training at the School of Air Evacuation
Bowman Field, Kentucky

We’ve always been a pair, and I hate the thought of you alone. I wish I could relieve your worries. I am doing well. As we discussed, I joined the Army Nurse Corps. Recently I became a flight nurse, an exciting new profession that combines my call to nursing with my love of adventure. When you named me Philomela, meaning “nightingale,” did you know one day I’d truly bring mercy on wing?

While I wish they could have sent my squadron west to the Pacific, closer to you, we sailed east to the Mediterranean. The Americans and British landed in Morocco and Algeria in November and are now fighting the Germans in Tunisia. Yesterday we landed in Oran, Algeria. You would love the hibiscus and bougainvillea.

For the past year I’ve lived in dread for you, scarcely overcome by hope. With no word about your safety, I faced the possibility of a life alone. But God provided others to comfort and encourage me.

Two of the nurses in my squadron, Georgie and Rose, have become such dear friends. I also correspond anonymously with an Army engineer I’ve nicknamed Ernest. He and I have much in common, things we can share in the freedom of anonymity. He’s a good man, Papa, and you needn’t worry about broken hearts. Anonymity is too precious for each of us.

I don’t know what conditions you face in Santo Tomas, whether you’re getting enough food or how you’re treated. But I pray for you constantly.

I pray the Americans will invade the Philippines soon, and you’ll come home safe and healthy and whole. This hope may or may not be attained.

While the possibility of not seeing you again on this earth grieves me, I cling to the greater hope.

No matter what the Japanese do, no matter what disease and deprivation do, no matter what shells and bombs do, nothing can strip away this hope.

No matter what, you and I will be united in heaven forever with our beloved Savior! The joy I experienced today is nothing compared to the joy of that glorious day!

Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” Oh, Papa, this is so true. Despite our hardship and separation, we are blessed when we trust in Him.

These are evil days, ruled by evil men, but “Thou art my hope in the day of evil” (Jeremiah 17:17).

The Lord is present in our separation, comfort in your suffering, and strength in my weakness. He is Father to me and the truest friend in loneliness. That is the hope no enemy can kill.

My dear Papa, while I rejoice in the news that you live, I rejoice more deeply knowing you share this strength-giving hope.

As I finish this letter—never to be mailed—but one day, I pray, to be shared in your presence—I sing one of your favorite hymns, “The Solid Rock.”

You cannot hear my voice, but the Lord will carry the message to your heart…

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In ev’ry high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way.
He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand—
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

With all my love,
From your little nightingale,

Mellie’s prize bundle:

  • A signed copy of With Every Letter
  • Handmade “Mellie’s First Aid Kit” stocked with Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, and – for true emergencies – Starbucks Via coffee
  • Stash Moroccan Mint Green Tea, to commemorate Mellie’s time in North Africa
  • Blank note cards decorated with exotic flowers and a pen to write your own letters
  • “Bon Voyage” sticky notes for Mellie’s adventure-loving, globe-trotting nature
  • Anne Taintor Vintage Dark Chocolate with the logo: “Whoever said laughter is the best medicine had clearly never tasted chocolate.”



To enter to win Mellie’s prize bundle, please leave a comment below, including your email address in the following format: sarah[at]sarahsundin[dot]com. Since Mellie gleaned hope from her new friends and from music, if you’d like, share about a song or about a friend or family member who has brought hope to you. To place extra entries please share links on Facebook and/or Tweet with the hashtag #hopechronicles…then comment again to tell us about it. No Purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older and a resident of the U.S. or Canada to enter. By entering, entrant agrees to these terms and releases giveaway sponsor from any and all liability.

To enter to win the Hope Chronicles journal, please visit the Hope Chronicles page.

Winners for the journal and for each of the individual prize bundles will be drawn at 12 noon Pacific time, November 12, 2012.Winner will be notified via e-mail shortly thereafter and announced on this blog.

To go back and read the other Hope Chronicles entries and register to win those prize packs, check out the links below.

Monday, November 5th: Regina Jennings (Heroine: Rosa Garner, Sixty Acres and a Bride)
Tuesday, November 6th: Joanne Bischof (Heroine: Lonnie Sawyer, Be Still My Soul)
Wednesday, November 7th: Amanda Dykes (Heroine: Georgianna Wentworth, Upon the Waters)
Thursday, November 8thKaren Barnett (Heroine: Abby Fischer, Shaken)
Friday, November 9th: Sarah Sundin (Heroine: Mellie Blake, With Every Letter)

74 Responses to “Hope Chronicles: Mellie Blake”

  1. chaplaindebbie

    I couldn’t wait to read the last of these chronicles, so I stayed up late awaiting its arrival. I have truly been blessed by you four ladies through your journal entries. I would so love to possess that amazing journal that passed between the hands of such blessed writers. Mellie Black sounds like a truly inspiring heroine. I would love to hear the rest of her story…and more about this young man she corresponds with….As I have mentioned to the other ladies, ‘Come Thou Fount’ is a song that truly touches me and helps me to remember that God is in control and that I can trust Him to guide me in the right direction throughout my life…especially during difficult times. When I read Mellie’s words to her father, it makes me miss my father, who has passed from this world…but I know that this world is not the end… Thank you so much for participating in The Hope Chronicles. I will Tweet and share this on Facebook…God bless. debsbunch5[at]jesusanswers[dot]com

    • chaplaindebbie

      Sorry, I meant to write Mellie Blake, not Black. Even as I was typing this correction, I still typed Black the first time….it’s late, off to bed I go!

  2. Connie R.

    I have LOVED these letters, and it would be so wonderful to be able to read all the books and see the Hope Journal. One of my biggest inspirations is my Uncle Paul who has survived many ordeals in his 80+ years including a serious car accident and a couple bouts with cancer. But he is the first to say the car accident saved his life because it brought him to know Christ. I value his presence in our family and he is always my go-to guy!


  3. Amanda

    I love Mellie’s story, and I love her letter here today. She has such a quiet strength, a spark that I loved watching be kindled as her story unfolded in WITH EVERY LETTER. Thank you, Sarah!

    As I shared with you ladies in an e-mail, I’ve been so blessed, so humbled, by each of the Hope Chronicles letter-writers AND commenters this week. I saw hope abundant come to life on the screen this week as people shared their stories of hope, their scriptures of hope, and today I can’t wait to pop back in and read about the people who’ve inspired hope in them.

  4. Tima Murrell

    What a beautiful letter. I don’t have a specific song, but music is very uplifting and soothing and I don’t know what I would do without it.

  5. Anonymous

    I really enjoyed reading Mellie’s story and her letter. As far as a song, I have always liked You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban.
    Katie J. (johnsonk133@yahoo.com)

  6. Anonymous

    I really enjoyed reading Mellie’s story!! I love the old hymns, esp Great is Thy Faithfulness and And Can it Be. Thank you for the opportunity to enter to win your awesome prizes!!
    Diana Liggett

  7. Dawn

    I loved reading this book. Mellie’s story is so beautiful. Her journal entry is also wonderful.

    There are so many songs that have given me hope at various times in my life. One of my current favorites is Glorious Day by Casting Crowns.

  8. Anonymous

    This letter has made me want to read With Every Letter. It’s in my stack to be read pile. Might have to move it up a bit! 🙂
    Amy C
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  9. Anonymous

    I shared on twitter.
    amy c
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  10. Karen Barnett


    Sigh. Mellie’s letter swept me right back in to her story and now I want to go read it again. I wonder what her father will think of “Ernest?” The Solid Rock is the perfect song to wrap up Hope Chronicles. It says it all, doesn’t it? I mentioned in yesterday’s comments how God has used Come Thou Fount in my life to nudge me into writing Abby’s story. Another song which has spoken to me over the years is “Your Hands” by JJ Heller. “When my world is shaking, Heaven stands. When my heart is breaking, I never leave Your hands.”

    Mellie’s prize pack looks AMAZING. I wish I could enter, but I can’t wait to see who wins!

    • Amanda

      Karen, I love “Your Hands” by J.J. Heller; one of my favorite lines is “Your hands that shaped the world… are holding me”. Such an amazing thing to consider.

  11. Kristie Truett

    What a beautiful letter full of hope in dire circumstances. Mellie’s strength and trust in her Lord is so inspiring. A remake of the song, “My Hope is Built” by Hillsong Live called “Cornerstone” is my go to song right now. In Amanda Dykes question she asked for a song too and I shared it there also. It’s so beautiful. The original song was one of my grandparents favorite songs and I can still close my eyes and see them singing it with all the belief and conviction in the world that they believed every word. They’re two of my greatest examples and hero’s in life. Thanks for this opportunity and all the hard work that went into the Hope Chronicles by all the amazing authors.

    God bless, Kristie Truett

    Here’s a link to the song if you’d like to hear it. http://youtu.be/cWHgvkEPJiQ

  12. Heidi

    I find hope when I watch the way my daughter responds to the challenges hands her, whether simple daily nuicanses or larger situations. She stays upbeat and hopeful the same way Mellie does. Thank you for your lovely writing, Sarah.

  13. Noelle the dreamer

    Sarah, both ex-RAF hubby and I have enjoyed your stories from day one for the many memories it brought us! This entire week we read letters written by very special authors yet our heart anticipated this one…I once shared one of your character’s name was quite a coincidence but this letter topped it all with its date! We read this letter twice already and each time we felt such strong emotions!
    Verses such as ‘Love One Another As I Have Loved You’ and hymns such as ‘Jerusalem'(And did those feet in ancient times…) have lightened our troubles many times.
    It remains for us to say we have learned much this week and will remember it always as the best week in Blogland!
    Many thanks for sharing the creativity we have witnessed along with the faith expressed!
    (Oh yes, I would love to enter our name in the drawing!)
    God speed,


  14. Anonymous

    These letters have been wonderful! Thank you guys for doing this!
    Beth Gillihan

  15. Heather Day Gilbert

    What an interesting time period. Would love to win your book, Sarah! My email is heatherdaygilbert(at)gmail(dot)com.

    And my mom is one of the most hopeful, optimistic people I know. Even when she had colon cancer, she was praising the Lord for small blessings along the way. I can only hope to get half her happy spirit.

  16. Michelle Jinnette


    I love Mellie’s story and the letters she wrote. They make me want to write letters to my friends and family with whom I do not communicate often. I can’t wait to read the other books in this series.

  17. Dawn Burgess

    It was great to see more of what Mellie might have written to her father. I love Ms. Sundin’s books and if I won I’d be giving this to my mom as a Christmas present so she could enjoy Mellie’s story as much as I did! Looking forward to the next book in August!


  18. MichelleH

    I’d be very happy to win a copy of the book – I loved your first trilogy.

    I have lots of favourite comforting hymns, but ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ is probably my very favourite. In a world where things are so crazy and chaging so quickly, the reminder that we have an unchanging God is a good one!


  19. Sarah Sundin

    Chaplain Debbie – I’m touched that you stayed up late to read this – and it’s Pacific time here 🙂

    Connie – how wonderful to have an uncle like that! I love how he saw the greater purpose in what most people would see as tragedy.

    Amanda – I agree! The comments on all 5 blog posts have truly touched my heart. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of this!

    Tima – I’m so thankful God created music 🙂

    Katie J – I love that song too!

    Diana – I love the old hymns too – and those are two of my favorites. There’s such grandeur in the hymns, such deep thought and insight.

    Dawn – thank you! Casting Crowns is one of my favorite groups – hard-hitting lyrics!

    Amy – thanks 🙂 I hope you enjoy Tom & Mellie’s story!

    Karen – actually, “The Solid Rock” reminded me of your book 🙂 I was living in San Francisco during the Loma Prieta Earthquake as a newlywed. The following Sunday we sang this hymn – and the order of service had been planned BEFORE the earthquake. I could barely sing, “All other ground is sinking sand,” because I was so emotional. The earth is unstable, my darling beloved new husband could have been taken from me (he was ON the Bay Bridge!!!) – but God remains.

    Kristie – thank you for sharing that song! I’m delighted that they’re introducing that wonderful song to a new generation.

    Heidi – what a wonderful daughter you must have! And what a wonderful mom she must have to have learned this attitude 🙂

    Noelle – you have totally blessed me today – and all the Hope Chronicles authors! Thank you for joining us on our journey.

    Beth – I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it!

    Heather – what a great mom! I love being around people like that – teaches me the little things I whine about are NOTHING!!

    Michelle – that’s what’s been so fun about this book! I’ve heard from so many people who have been inspired to write letters because of it!

  20. Sarah Sundin

    Deborah – thank you!

    Dawn B. – I’m glad you liked it! I enjoyed returning to Mellie’s voice to write it 🙂

    Darci – thanks!

    Michelle H – I love that hymn too! I’m glad it’s one my church still sings.

  21. Jenna C.

    Wow…I love that letter! I think I’ll like the book even more!! I love that poem and the verses! Lovely post! (:


  22. Charity

    One song that has always been an uplift to me is Blessed Assurance. Beautiful hymn:) I have enjoyed all your books and am anxiously awaiting your next one. I purchase several copies for my Mother and Sister who read your books as well. Thanks for this giveaway!


  23. Jasmine A.

    The Solid Rock is one of my favorites, along with Leaning On The Everlasting Arms…..

  24. Jax

    It’s a beautiful letter of hope, and your daughter is so talented Sarah. I hope Anna keeps up with her art, for some day she may be illistrating all your books and designing the covers. And I keep thinking of the song “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”

    4barnes@bellsouth.net 4barnes{at}bellsouth[dot]net

    My parents have the most hope I know…my mother was dianosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer but that has not stopped her a bit. My parents have fought through the surgery, chemo, and now remission and have stayed strong and hopeful.

  25. Lori Tracy Boruff

    “The Lord is present in our separation, comfort in your suffering, and strength in my weakness. He is Father to me and the truest friend in loneliness. That is the hope no enemy can kill.”

    I think that needs to be a song!

    I’ve said before I’m not a fiction reader but The Hope Chronicles has been fun and I look forward to starting something new – reading fiction. I don’t want it to end!

  26. Rachelle

    This is such a fun thing, Hope Chronicles. Thank ya’ll for hosting it. These letters are lovely.

    Thank you also for the opportunity to win! A song that I just love (and fits really well with this ::cheeky grin::) is Hope Now by Addison Road. Love. that. song.

    biblioprincess15 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  27. Joanne Bischof

    It’s so bittersweet that this is our last day on the Hope Chronicles and it couldn’t have ended sweeter than Mellie’s letter today. A song that comes to mind is Before the Throne of God. One of my absolute favorites. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq4eObqVdX0

    “With Every Letter” is sitting at the top of my TBR pile right now and my fingers are just itching to get there as soon as I hit my deadline. Mellie sounds like such a dear and I love here words here: “The Lord is present in our separation, comfort in your suffering, and strength in my weakness. He is Father to me and the truest friend in loneliness. That is the hope no enemy can kill.” Amen! What a special heroine and I know it’s going to be a special book. I cannot wait!

  28. Michelle

    I love this addition to the Hope Chronicles! I haven’t read this book but it looks like it’s next on my list.

    I love the classic hymn “Come Thou Fount” it calms my soul.


  29. Sherry Lochner

    I would love to read this. My song would be a children’s song as I have two year olds I teach on SONdays. “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” and 2nd verse “And if the devil doesn’t like it he can sit on a tack”, because many days I feel the devil wanting to attack my thoughts and have to turn to singing.
    sherry717 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  30. Sarah Sundin

    Jenna – thanks 🙂

    Charity – I love “Blessed Assurance” too. These wonderful old hymns are playing in my head today!

    Jasmine – such comfort in those hymns!

    Jax – I’ll pass on your compliment. I have a feeling she’ll always draw. And I’m so sorry about your mother – but pleased to hear of her inspirational attitude.

    Lori – you’re welcome to come up with music – NOT my talent! I hope you find a new love in fiction!

    Rachelle – I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the journey. By the way, Addison Road is one of my daughter’s favorite groups!

    Joanne – that song always chokes me up!! It’s so beautiful. Aren’t you pleased with how your germ of an idea for the Hope Chronicles has bloomed!

    Michelle – another favorite hymn! Sigh.

  31. Melody

    I loved how you 4 put the letters together…hearts continuing on & on & on…


  32. Sarah Sundin

    Melody – thank you! It’s an honor to be part of this project. These women have inspired me throughout the past few months – and the fruition of their idea and all the work – the comments and community – have touched and blessed me.

  33. Lane Hill House

    “He and I have much in common, things we can share in the freedom of anonymity.” ―Lt. Mellie Blake, February 22, 1943

    To be known as we are known! For others to know us as God does. Completely reflecting His love ~ even to ourselves.

    “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” I Corinthians 13:12

    “Victory in Jesus” is my very favorite. When I was 12 years old we sang this hymn in a little country church I visited with our neighboring farm children.
    The morning of the day I was saved, this song was sung ~ the only one I knew, and I could see this little 12 year old girl sitting on the wood floor near the altar platform. Well, two Easter’s ago we went back to this little church with the oldest and youngest daughters of this family. My husband and I had come to go to my high school reunion. I shared my testimony. I said there was still that wood floor underneath the carpeting. A little country church.

    Victory In Jesus
    ♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ •♥•.¸¸.•♥•.¸
    I heard an old, old story
    How a Savior came from glory
    How He gave His life on Calvary
    To save a wretch like me
    I heard about His groaning
    Of His precious blood’s atoning
    Then I repented of my sins
    And won the victory

    ~*~ O victory in Jesus
    My Savior, forever
    He sought me and bought me
    With His redeeming blood
    He loved me ere I knew Him
    And all my love is due Him
    He plunged me to victory
    Beneath the cleansing flood

    I heard about His healing
    Of His cleansing pow’r revealing
    How He made the lame to walk again
    And caused the blind to see
    And then I cried, “Dear Jesus
    Come and heal my broken spirit,”
    And somehow Jesus came and brought
    To me the victory
    ~*~ chorus
    I heard about a mansion
    He has built for me in glory
    And I heard about the streets of gold
    Beyond the crystal sea
    About the angels singing
    And the old redemption story
    And some sweet day I’ll sing up there
    The song of victory
    ~*~ chorus
    ♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ •♥•.¸¸.•♥•.¸

    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

  34. Lane Hill House

    posted link to my blog post about the Hope Chronicles on my Facebook news page
    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

  35. Sarah Sundin

    Nat – thank you!

    Kathleen – my goodness! Thanks for spreading the word so thoroughly 🙂 We all appreciate it!

  36. Donna

    I have also enjoyed reading each one of these letters!! I would love to win the books also so that I would know how each story ends! I love the old song “Anchored in Jesus”. d(dot)brookmyer(at)yahoo(dot)com

  37. sandy

    This book sounds wonderful and the prize is unbelievable–please sign me up.

  38. Sarah Sundin

    Donna- what a wonderful and appropriate hymn!

    Sandy – thank you 🙂

    Becky – thanks! And I sure appreciated your lovely review.

  39. Regina Jennings

    I love Philomela’s letter to her dear father. How quickly we forget the sacrifices and tragedies of war, but they make us long for the reign of the Prince of Peace. There’s our hope.

    I can’t wait to read the rest of Mellie’s story.

    God bless!

  40. karenk

    a wonderful posting…thanks for sharing your beautiful daughter, too

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  41. Angela Holland

    I am not a big music person but when I hear Amazing Grace I always think of my grandma and it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for the giveaway.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

  42. shelly

    I love your writing Sarah and this story sounds so good!
    My hubby brought me hope in having a second chance at love. I am so thankful for him!
    donnyandshelly (at) (yahoo) (dot) (com)

  43. Southern Gal

    Loved the post. Music is so special and hopeful to me. One of the songs that I find impossible to hear or sing without tears is the old hymn, “What a Day That Will Be.” It is so full of hope, but it was one of my mother’s favorites and was sung at her funeral. So I hear or sing it through mixed tears . . . sorrow at missing my mother and joy at knowing I’ll see her and my daddy again at the feet of our Savior, and oh, what a day that will be!

    Pam Burke

  44. Sarah Sundin

    Regina – thank you 🙂

    Karen – you’re welcome. She babysits too, if anyone’s interested….

    Angela – that song always gets me too.

    Shelly – your husband sounds wonderful 🙂

    Pam – Bittersweet…thank you for sharing.

  45. tickmenot

    My Dad served in the Army Air Corps (later the US Air Force) in WWII. One time I asked him what song he remembered best from that time, or what he remembered everyone really liked. I expected him to say something like Glen Miller’s “In the Mood” or song by the Andrews Sisters. His answer surprised me. He said, “I’ll be home for Christmas” was the song he remembered being most popular through all those war years. I was really surprised by his answer. Then he said, “you see, everyone always hoped that each year would be the one when the war ended–and then, that year, we would all be home for Christmas. So all of us loved that song, and always wanted to hear it, and have that hope in our hearts.”

    Shortly after he told me that, Dad passed away on Veteran’s Day in 2008. One of the first Christmas songs I heard that year was “I’ll be home for Christmas”, which of course, made me think of Dad. He truly was home for Christmas that year. The song is bittersweet for me because I miss him so, but know I will someday be home with him for Christmas, too.


  46. Sarah Sundin

    Becky – that song always puts a lump in my throat. I can just imagine how emotional it was during WWII.

  47. Jenny

    A song that has brought me hope is 7×70 by Chris August; a powerful song about forgiveness and healing. It really is possible to heal broken relationships, with the power of Christ.