Small Mercies


Editor’s note: Today, we’re thrilled to congratulate our friend and contributor Nancy Jo Sullivan on the publication of her most recent book, Small Mercies: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life. I know you’ll love this wonderful, inspirational work — be sure to read through to the end of the article, where Nancy Jo and her publisher Loyola Press offer you a great chance to win this book. LMH


When I hear the word, I can’t help but recite my favorite passage from Shakespeare:

“The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,
Upon the place beneath.”

For me, this verse call forth images of a God who is immeasurably bigger than we are.  Though he is Lord of heaven, his love for us cannot be constrained.  Each day, he showers his compassion upon our lives.  Like gentle raindrops, his mercies fall steadily. They are everywhere.

My name is Nancy Jo Sullivan.  I’m an inspirational author.  In my newest book, Small Mercies: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life, (Loyola Press) I reflect upon the humble ways in which God reveals himself to us.  I call these little revelations small mercies. 

Now that I’m an older mom in my fifties, I’ve discovered that small mercies can be found in unexpected places. We can uncover them in the conversations we share at the dinner table or in the goodnight kisses we give our kids. When we encourage a co-worker, support a friend or receive the care of a loved one, the mercies of God shine brightly, like votive candles. In laughter that doubles us over or in heartaches we think we will never survive, the merciful presence of God is hidden; a treasure waiting to be found.

Each time we experience a small mercy, a hopeful word, a compassionate hug, or a promise of forgiveness, we are called to remember that we are loved by a God who lives and moves among us.   

Over the years, I’ve experienced a myriad of small mercies.  In the non-stop routines of motherhood and family, I’ve felt the sprinkles of God’s grace.   But I’ve also stood in the torrents of uncertainty; raising a Down syndrome child,  medical and financial challenges, a painful divorce and the death of my handicapped daughter four years ago.

These experiences (and the lessons learned from them) are inscribed on the pages of Small Mercies. This collection of inspirational stories was written at my kitchen table.  As I sat at my laptop, I was amazed at the insights that emerged from the words that surfaced on the screen.  With each story, I began to see a pattern.  God had been present in every mess, burden and blessing.

The book imparts a message that will speak to a variety of readers. Younger moms may relate to the stories I’ve written about the holy interruptions that define the vocation of motherhood.  In the spirit of Saint Elizabeth, I’m honored to offer encouragement to all the younger “Mary’s” in my life.

Older (or shall I say wiser?) women might identify with my voyage through the second half of life.  If you are wondering how to “age with grace,” you will resonate with my reflections about the empty nest, changes in family structure, letting go, dreaming new dreams and most importantly, finding God in all of it.

The special needs community will be drawn to the chapters I’ve written about Sarah, my Downs syndrome daughter.  While writing these difficult reflections, I thought of you.  Our lives are linked by the painfully beautiful stories we have lived and shared.  As you read Small Mercies, know that I will be holding you in my heart.

I’d love to hear from you.   Feel free to visit my website and blog at  Also, at the end of this post, take a moment to jot down your own small mercies. I’d be delighted to hear about the ways in which God has been revealing himself to you.

In closing, here’s a short meditation. Take a few deep breaths. Turn your face toward heaven and let yourself relax.  Imagine that you are standing in the rain of God’s presence. Feel the gentle raindrops of his love falling upon you.  Drop…Splash…Drop.  God’s mercies are sprinkling over your life.

They’re everywhere.

Giveaway: Thanks to the wonderful team at Loyola Press, we have three copies of Small Mercies to give away to lucky readers. To enter for your chance to win, leave a comment on this post telling us about a small mercy in your own life. Entries must be in by midnight PST on August 25, 2012.

Order Small Mercies: Glimpses of God in Everyday Life and support with your purchase

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Copyright 2012 Nancy Jo Sullivan



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  1. Kylie Murdison on

    Thank you for the post, Nancy Jo. My most recent small mercies was sleeping through the night last night. It is our first pregnancy and I am joyfully adjusting to life in my new body, new marriage, new home, and new teaching assignment. All of these new things are BIG mercies, but it is the small mercies that make me able to experience these new things with joy. By the mercy of God, I slept the night through (big tummy and coughing husband and all!) and I feel refreshed to take on the day. Praise the Lord!

  2. Small mercies are everywhere in my life. I was on my way to a retreat on Friday evening and as we drove to the retreat center a rainbow guided our way. It was so awesome. I can’t even describe the peace it gave me. Thanks be to God.

  3. Darlene Newman on

    My small mercy is my husband returning to the church after many years. I have been praying for this to happen so that we may celebrate mass as a family. Nothing makes me happier than walking into church surrounded by the ones I love.

  4. My small mercy is our monthly Young Adult night our Pastor leads for us. It’s always something to look forward to with good food and fellowship.

  5. My small mercy was receiving a card and an inspirational note from my mom today in the mail as she knows that I’ve been going through a difficult time! It helped get me through the day with my three children with a smile on my face!

  6. The beautiful weather. It has finally cooled off and it is so lovely to have the windows open and enjoy the sounds of the birds, to be able to go outside and enjoy it all without melting from the heat. It just makes my heart happy to be surrounded by it all.

  7. Small mercies are those gifts we get when we need them but don’t expect them. Last week, I called a few friends I hadn’t spoken to lately and both said “you made my day” which is ironic because I called them because I was feeling blue and wanted to hear their voices. Turns out we needed each other. Peace.

  8. I am recovering from a total knee replacement right now and like any surgery there have been ups and downs but each time I feel discouraged I always find there is am email or a text or card to bring my spirits up. I feel these little messages of encouragemnt are my little mercies from God and Him letting me know I am not alone.

  9. A small mercy that I just experienced is being “forced” to switch parishes after 22 years…our new parish is absolutely amazing, very orthodox and unafraid to speak the beauties & Truths of our awesome Faith & God!

    God bless you for this opportunity to win this lovely book!

  10. So many moments of grace in my life! Most recently my small mercies are a health challenge which is forcing me to open myself to the love and help of my husband and friends in a new way, a heightened appreciation for the great beauty of watching our odd assemblage of humanity, young and old, passionate and lukewarm and everywhere in between, as we come forward to receive Jesus… and God comes and dwells in each one of us. There are no words! And beyond that, it is Saturday, the sun is shining and the humidity is gone…

  11. My recent small mercy is meeting a lovely young lady on a small forum. We came into talking about some articles I posted (faith-related) and she said they mean a lot to her. Knowing she was an atheist, I asked how come? She then said she’s joining Catholic Church and the links I provided are very helpful on this path. Yay! What a wonderful way to help someone come closer to God!

  12. I feel very grateful for friends I’ve made where we moved shortly after our fifth child died during my labour. They have stood by me through my grief journey – they are the ones who didn’t give me wide berth when they learned I was reeling from our baby’s death. I realized today when we were laughing about something at coffee Sunday after Mass how comfortable our friendship is and how blessed I am to have them in my life. They take me lumps and all – through bad times and good.

  13. Last night after choir practice was over, I discovered that someone had sneaked a bag of garden tomatoes into my kitchen. Still don’t know who left them for us but I’m grateful for the gesture of friendship!

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