My New Book! A Study on the Gospel of Matthew

Layer upon layer of snow was frozen on the ground as I walked out of spiritual direction.

“Perhaps, God is asking you to bear other fruit,” Father had said to me, and the words echoed in my mind as I held them in my heart.

My heart and my womb ached—my heart over the loss of another baby, our third miscarriage from months ago—and my womb from the chronic infection that the doctors could not help me get under control. Yet, the Lord seemed to be directing my heart and my vocation to bear other fruit into the world, fruit different from the bearing of new human persons inside me.

Today, I am delighted, in a deep, melancholic sort of way, to share the release of my first book, a meditative study on the Gospel of Matthew.

This book is the fruit of my suffering, a suffering I was gifted to learn how to offer with Christ’s Sacrifice for us, the suffering of secondary infertility but also of other multiple chronic diseases.

And while we have lost two more babies to miscarriage since that day in spiritual direction five years ago, I am learning to embrace more fully this call to bear fruit in new, different ways. To share the gift of my prayer and offering, to allow the Holy Spirit to work through me to share the Gospel with you.

So, I invite you to join Blessed is She in praying with the Gospel of Matthew through imaginative prayer. This study divides the Gospel of Matthew into eight parts, with an introductory and conclusory reflection to explain the 3-4 chapters of the Gospel in each part, a daily reading plan, and an imaginative meditation on a passage from each of the twenty-eight chapters of Matthew.

You can purchase the study through my affiliate link here. Use the coupon code SUSANNA10 to get 10% off.

I also would love to share with you the new Blessed is She Journaling Bible. It is the NRSV-Catholic Edition translation, equipped with really helpful introductory information from Our Sunday Visitor and lots of maps. Though besides all of that my favorite part of this new Bible is the soft, leatherette cover, the smooth pages, and the way it feels in my hand as I read it. And the ribbons. I love ribbon bookmarks in Bibles. It can be purchased through this affiliate link.

Trying Not to Lose Hope and the Planned Parenthood Videos

That baby is my two month old T when he was 9 weeks gestation.

I have a confession to make: I have not watched any of the Planned Parenthood sting operation videos. I read the contents in detail of the first video and I went cold all over. I did not want to watch that. And each video gets worse. They say there are 8 more, and I wonder, can it get worse than it has?

But I also have another confession. I am guilty of losing hope that peoples’ hearts will change, that our country will stop the slaughtering of its unborn.

We made it to the early daily Mass yesterday morning, and the first reading from Numbers struck me. God told the Israelites that He was giving them a land flowing with milk and honey. So, they go and scout it out. The scouts come back and are completely without hope. There are giants living in this promised land. There is no way that they can ever live there. They will probably die before defeating those giants.

The abortion industry and Planned Parenthood have been giants in my life, big bad, unbeatable giants. Sure, we can get a mother to change her mind on occasion, but it is always going to be on the sly, outside the yellow painted line on the sidewalk. Since I was a child I have been praying for the end of abortion, outside clinics and everyday in my list of intentions.

 When the Israelites gave up hope in God’s promises, they were given 40 years exile.

We have been wandering in the legal desert for over 40 years, and babies are still dying and it is easy to give up hope. (And to clarify, I do not think that we legal abortion is punishment for our lack of hope; I think that it is easy to lose hope when evil is going on for so long.)

So, when these videos first started coming out, I have not been at all surprised by their content. But I have not been able to watch them. Merely the images of the murdered babies that accompany them have been horrific to view, making me feel sick and sorrowful. The written out descriptions of the content have been enough for me to know of the evil that I have known about since I was a little girl.

But I realized when I heard the doubts and hopelessness of the Israelites that by giving up on things ever changing, by losing hope, I am being just like them. So, I decided to try hoping again. It is okay to hope for good, even when the odds of things changing are slim. And I have never stopped praying for change. But maybe it is time to become more active again. Maybe it is time to take my family to pray outside the place where they slaughter babies again.

And when I decided this, I read my friend Rachel Lu’s article about how she believes that the Planned Parenthood videos are making a real change in the culture. And her reasons gave me even more hope. (Thanks, Rachel!)

Maybe these videos really will make a difference. Maybe I should watch them. But I am not sure I want to; it is never nice to watch evil. But I do hope that curiosity will get the best of others, and they will watch and their hearts will change.

Blessed is She: Surrender to the Change

In case you have not had a chance to reflect on today’s daily readings, I am linking over to the devotion I wrote for today on Blessed it She.

Also, in case you have not heard, BiS is selling a journal for Lenten devotions. You should check it out!

From today’s devotion:

I need a deeper transformation. I need a life long transformation. But it is so easy to become comfortable where I am. I forget that the laws have been written on my heart. It is the fact that they are there that draws me back to God. The indelible mark of Baptism will never go away. My restless heart draws me back to God, and He is waiting there. He is always steadfast…
Read the rest at Blessed is She…

Renewed in the Spirit

Just a reminder: Blessed is She is selling a beautiful Advent journal. It is not too late to order yours! We hope to have all orders in by November 15 to get them shipped in time.

And now for something more reflective than normal from the devotion I wrote for today:


Just as the lepers received physical healing through the Holy Spirit, we have received spiritual healing. Saint Paul tells us of our own sickness, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, . . . but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” We have been cleansed in our Baptism, not through our own merits, but through the mercy of God…

Read the rest along with the daily readings at Blessed is She.

The Cherry on Top of God’s Blessings

We began 2013 in the hunt for our first home. Scaling back our original hopes for a large house, we decided we would be happy with a house with three bedrooms, a finished basement space for play (during our long winters), and a study for my professor husband to do his paper writing, grading, and class planning. We also really wanted potential for a fourth bedroom, seeing that we have had three kids in five years and have many more child bearing years ahead. It took us about a month to find what we thought was the right house. Our offer was accepted and we went forward with the inspection, closing, some simple updating, and then finally moving in. With high hopes for a nice quiet summer to enjoy our new house, we set out on a two week vacation.

After a nice visit with friends and family, we drove the ten hours home to find a pipe spurting water, and at least 8 gallons of water sitting on the floor and soaked up the walls on one side of the basement. We were stunned. Thankfully, our plumber was able to come out and make the repair (even though it was 9pm on a Saturday night), while I ran to rent a carpet cleaning machine to extract the water before the store closed. The next morning we reevaluated the situation to discover mold in the still wet walls. We knew we were in over our heads, and decided to make the claim to the insurance company.

That very day, a water mitigation company was sent out and we watched as the ripped up our basement carpet and cut up drywall and haul pieces of our once nice basement out the backdoor into their trucks. To us it was a disaster.

 Not even a month into our new house and it was being ripped apart. We wondered if we should have even bought a house. Were we cut out for this? Was it really God’s plan for us? Looking back at our decision to buy, everything at the time seemed right. We had prayed about buying, and things lined up monetarily. It had all gone so smoothly. We had prayed a novena to St. Joseph to find a good house, and it seemed that God had blessed us with the house we found. Why was this happening? The week we decided to buy the house, this was a reading at Mass:

And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:9-13)

All of July, we struggled with the stress of basement, wondering if we had made a huge mistake in buying it. As we worked with the company making estimates for the insurance company and in charge of the repairs, we learned that the whole of our basement family room was going to need to be refinished, ceiling, walls, and flooring. The timetable was much longer than we had hoped for initially, but I started to see that the house God had blessed us with was not a scorpion, but it was the egg that we asked for. We had a nice house, but now it is going to be even nicer. The disaster of the leaky pipe, is going to give us a new basement with fresh carpet and the additional fourth bedroom built except for the egress window for safety purposes (which we will take care of in a few years before we use it as a bedroom).

In my life, I know that I have been so abundantly blessed by God, especially when I have taken each decision to Him and asked Him for His blessings. Things rarely progress or end up according to what I planned, but the certainly end up as God planned. He brings the Good out of all situations, and takes care of those who trust in Him. And the disasters, large and small, in our lives teach us what is most important, and that is loving God and each other.

The material blessings are the cherry on top, and from a loving Father who gives us our very existence, they are given and important. Nothing is too small for His notice, and all of our sufferings are an evil. But, He who makes all things new, brings about Good from our sufferings and blesses us further.

On Thistles and the Fall

I am joining in on the “epic blogging challenge” of “7 posts in 7 days“, motivated by Jen of the 7 quick takes. I plan to have a post everyday this week Monday-Sunday.


I finally have a yard this summer and now finally have a garden. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have been fighting off a thistle that is in my tomato and basil vegetable garden. Every time I go out to the garden there is a new shoot of this creeping thistle, and every time I dig it up I can’t help but think of sin. And how sin is something we have to dig up and seek the root of to be rid of it.

A thistle coming up (again) in the shade of my tomato plant.

If I break the thistle off and not get the whole root it will grow back again and again. The thing about this thistle in my garden is that no one did any gardening last year and this thistle was allowed to run wild. It is a creeping thistle which means that it creeps underground with the same root system. I don’t think there is any way for me to pull up all the roots of this thistle; I will just have to keep on digging up the sprouts as they come up and they have spread into at least a ten foot diameter circle of area. Eventually I will wear down the plant. My other option is an herbicide, but here is the thing, it is a garden where I hope to grow food for myself and my family, so digging it is.

Creeping thistle on the lawn of the ecclesial community behind our home.
I will have to go around and did them up!

I never understood what a thistle was like until I met one in person, and a few weeks ago I heard this passage at Mass from Matthew 7:15-16:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?”

Knowing what a thistle was like made this passage make so much more sense. I thistle just won’t go away and it is prickly and will choke out other plants. It takes a lot of water to grow, so it will take water from the plants around it. In no way does it bear good fruit except the seeds of more thistles. It makes a great example of sin in our lives. Then reading in Genesis, I discovered that thistles are described as one of the consequences of the Fall:

“And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, `You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

It is only just that thistles grow in my garden; laboring with weeds is only part of growing my own food. So, I will fight this thistle, and use it as an opportunity to grow in virtue, offer up the annoyance of weeding the same weed over and over, and hopefully eat some yummy tomatoes and basil this summer.

P.S. According to Wikipedia (see “Uses”) the roots and the leaves of thistles are edible, the taproot being the most nutritious. However, since it represents sin, it has the uncomfortable and socially awkward side affect of flatulence.