Wednesday’s Inspiration

Have you ever been in love? And I’m not talking about the lovey-dovey feeling struck love they talk about on the Bachelor. I’m talking about genuine self-sacrificial love. A love that requires you to get out of yourself and look into the heart of another so you can best serve them. A love that demands pain and sacrifice. A love that demands you to ask God for the grace to keep on fighting and loving until there are no more tears left to cry and you are left with a choice – a choice between good and evil – love or hate, it’s that simple. Those are the only two choices when faced with genuine love in order for it to be considered authentic.

This morning I read one of my favorite passages by C.S. Lewis. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable and irredeemable. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

I love that, it gives me the chills. Each day is an opportunity for us to greet the morning with a new chance to love. A new chance to be vulnerable with others. A new chance to love someone who so desperately needs to feel and experience the genuine love of the Father. A love that doesn’t weaver. A love that is gentle, patient and reassuring. A love that doesn’t judge. A love without fear.

Vulnerability is hard, it requires you to give of yourself to another, to share your fears, concerns and dreams. To share a piece of your heart with another. To share Jesus with another. A chance for others to see Christ’s love shine through your smile, your words and actions.

Don’t keep your heart locked away, make the conscious effort to get out of yourself today and be vulnerable. And I’m not talking about a vulnerability that isn’t tempered with prudence. Every day we wake up with a choice to make – a choice to keep our heart as C.S. Lewis says, “in the casket” or to modestly expose our heart to those in our path. To take the risk to love until it hurts. And sometimes life might surprise us and our encounters will be relatively painless. But when the pain comes, as inevitably it will, that is when the real challenge presents itself – that is when we must choose once again to keep on fighting – to keep on fighting Him with love.

From my heart

I’m a feeler. And I think anyone who knows me well knows that. For the past year, I’ve actually been working on taking things that people say and do to me not so personally. A wise man once told me that virtue is always in the middle.

This week I received some extremely encouraging and loving emails thanking me for my blog. Please always know that I fight Him with love is fueled by the Holy Spirit. This is His work. Please thank Him for His inspiration if my words inspire you.

Those thank you emails did cause me to reflect on the birth of Made in His Image, something I really needed to do. It’s not mine – it’s His. I have simply tried to respond to the desire and grace He has put in my heart. Often times I shutter at how poor of a job I do, but with each new sunrise and Holy Communion comes a chance to begin again. A chance to throw myself into the arms of the Father and ask Him for the grace to respond with courage and strength to what He is asking of me. Because while there are times that I bust out 6 miles in record time because I’m so excited for this ministry, at other times it’s scary.

I have always been different from my siblings. I work two jobs to support myself and this work right now until I get approved for some grants. Sometimes I get really tired and the devil tempts me all the time that I’m making the wrong choice. But I trust in my Father’s gentle love, peace and reassurance. I know He wants this. This is for Him. This is for the girls who need to know their worth and their cherished dignity as a daughter of God. This is for the girl who sees her self-worth through a number on a scale. This is for the college athlete who needs to try harder to honor God with his or her athletic ability. This is for the college student whose hope has run dry. This is for the young girl who has nightmares of traumatic events and still locks her door at night because of fear. This is for the girl who has scars on her body from abuse and even deeper scars on the inside. This is for the woman who just heard the words from her boyfriend “I’m addicted to pornography.” This is for you, because I love you. I love you with every ounce of my sensitive heart. And I will not stop until you know the Father’s love, until you feel His gentle arms around you saying, “you are my child and I love you not because of what you do, but because you are mine.”

17 miles!

A lot of people think running is the same thing as jogging. To put it bluntly, it’t not. And while I most certainly do not intend to degrade anyone who jogs, my sister Clare is a runner. I wouldn’t consider myself to be a jogger, but compared to Clare this past weekend I might have to put myself in that category. On Sundays I only have time to run a quick 5 miles after work and before evening Mass. In preparation for her third marathon this fall, Clare ran 17 miles this weekend. And yes, that would be all at once. Amazing right? Here is her marathon training update for all of you advanced runners out there. The following was written by Clare, a former NCAA Division 1 runner.

My sister Clare and Megan post Marine Corps Marathon, 2010.


Perhaps the worst part about marathon training is knowing and thinking about the pain that will come sooner or later on the run. I believe marathon training itself humbles and exhilarates you at the same time. That in itself, is the lure that brings you back when you have forgotten about the last one. Frank Shorter, a former American long-distance runner who won the gold medal in the marathon at the 1972 Olympic Games, once said “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.”

As I embark on week 11 of marathon training, that little voice inside my head is beginning to get louder and louder as I ask myself, why am I doing this to myself again? People ask me what I did this morning. And I tell them “Oh, I got up at 6 am and ran 17 miles.” Needless to say I got some weary looks.

But yes, before the East Coast was ravaged this weekend by hurricane Irene (I would have run during the storm, but great friends and family were concerned for my safety. I love running in the rain!) I got up and ran 17 miles in preparation for my 26.2 mile endeavor in 8 weeks. Overall, it was a great run! Got up a little early and ingested some carbohydrates to help maintain my blood glucose levels during my run. Did the first 12 miles on this awesome trail through the woods near my house. Then I ran back to my house where a half of a banana, cold glass of water, and my roommate Megan was waiting for me to finish the last 5 miles.

At around mile 9, I was feeling a bit tired and then I knew I need some “reinforcements.” I called upon them from Our Blessed Mother and the saints. That is when I just start praying for the strength to persevere. Having the motivation of knowing someone is waiting for you at a certain mile is also awesome. So for all you long distance runners out there, having a running training buddy is a great motivator because you think in your head “I can’t stop because they are waiting for me.”

Therefore my friends, knowing you will experience fatigue, pain and have to be mentally strong to simply keep going is what makes you a marathon runner. It is important to remember that feeling tired is what training is about. From a physiology standpoint you receive many benefits from marathon training only after you’re tired. So the goal is to run beyond the point of being tired so that the body is stimulated to grow stronger and gain more resistance to tiredness.

I have learned over the past couple years that marathon training or running in general is a great metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it. It is a battle of your mental will to keep on persevering and complete the task you started. So in our present culture that offers every alternative to avoiding pain. I leave you with a question – is there any kind of true love in this world without some type of resistance, struggle or cross?

A new day

According to the clock on my Mac there are 18 minutes left on this Saturday. I can’t wait to welcome a new day. Today was one of those days were nothing tragic or horrible happened so you hate to complain because you feel like you have no right to, plus it’s just not a virtuous habit. But it just wasn’t a fabulous day, because I choose not to make it so. I let myself be consumed with fear and anxiety, instead of clinging to the hope and beauty concerning the ambiguity of life. Why do we worry about things we can’t control anyway? It’s so incredibly pointless. But so hard for me not to, probably because I want to be in control. When all I need to do is let go, and let God take care of my life. Let Him surprise me with His love.

Tomorrow is the feast of Saint Augustine- a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church. I couldn’t think of a better feast day in order to begin again than his. His life is proof of what our Heavenly Father can do when we respond to His grace. I give thanks for a new opportunity to choose to see beauty, to choose joy when my heart is heavy. To show others the love that God has shown me. It’s going to be a day for the books.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4: 5-7

101 Today

That is how old Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata would be today if she were alive. Three summers ago I went to Kolkata to serve with the Missionaries of Charity and it was one of the most extraordinary summers of my life. When I was a missionary a student once asked me when I really encountered God in a personal way. The answer was and always will be in India. At Mother Teresa’s tomb, in front of the Blessed Sacrament with the Sisters, on the streets of Kolkata, admits the noise and filth of city, in the beauty and tender love of the patients I served at Kalighat (Mother Teresa’s home for the dying). To this day I still say those patients gave me so much more than I ever could have offered them – for they showed me Jesus in a radical way, and for that I will always be eternally grateful. Below are some stellar words from Mother in honor of her birthday today. Ponder them, apply them, live them.

Photos from my trip to Kolkata, India.

The following article was put together by

Before Bill and Hillary Clinton and everyone, she said: I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile.

And Sister said: “This is the way it is nearly every day. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.” And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we there to be with them, or do we merely put them in the care of others? Are we willing to give until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must also remember that “the future of humanity passes through the family.”

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given to drugs. And I tried to find out why. Why is it like that, when those in the West have so many more things than those in the East? And the answer was: “Because there is no one in the family to receive them.” Our children depend on us for everything – their health, their nutrition, their security, their coming to know and love God. For all of this, they look to us with trust, hope and expectation. But often father and mother are so busy they have no time for their children, or perhaps they are not even married or have given up on their marriage. So the children go to the streets and get involved in drugs or other things. We are talking of love of the child which is where love and peace must begin. These are the things that break peace.

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.

And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

Made in His Image Update

Quick update- two days ago I saw the first draft of my logo. I had tears in my eyes, it’s beautiful! I’m so excited and grateful for all that the God has done for this to happen. Sometimes it feels like I’m in a dream, but it’s real – it’s actually happening! My logo should be done next week and I can’t wait to see it in color and show you. Also, I am very excited to announce that I am looking for sponsers for my blog. Since the end of May 2011, IfightHimwithlove has had 4,000 hits. I really want to get some sponsers going – if you have any good ideas please let me know at Or find me on facebook here –

Thank you so much for reading and for your support!

Here’s what’s been going on at Bethany…

It was Monday of Holy Week 2011, and I was listening to my favorite priest in Nashville give his homily at the 5:30 pm Mass. Father Baker said, “Let our hearts be a Bethany for Jesus this week as He prepares to suffer and die for us.” Father Baker continued to explain that Bethany was where Jesus went to be comforted. I almost cried, how could my wretched and sinful heart ever be a place of comfort for Jesus? I talked to Father Baker after Mass and his words filled my heart with peace. I fervently prayed for the grace that day for my heart to always be a Bethany for Jesus and Mary and cringed at how many times throughout my life time that it wasn’t. But a Christian soul needs to dwell on improving and I clung to the hope of change and renewal.

There are countless references to Bethany in the scriptures. After Jesus entered the temple and saw it being used as a place of trade, he overturned the tables and shouted, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” After He healed the blind and lame that came to Him. Matthew 21:17 tells us, “Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there.”

Bethany was also where He was adored and respected, this was where Mary Magdalene bathed His feet and anointed Him with costly perfumes and oils. “At no other time during our Lord’s earthly ministry was Christ so completely worshiped and adored as in Bethany” (John 12: 1-8). Bethany was where Jesus raised Lazarus from the died and spent many an evening with him, Mary and Martha. So all of us roommates decided that we would name our house Bethany, in hopes to prepare our hearts as a resting place for Jesus.

On Wednesday, Tala started classes at Vanderbilt. She is getting her Masters in Counseling and we couldn’t be happier for her. We love to celebrate here at Bethany, so naturally Tala’s first day of class was a perfect occasion. We all made dinner for her and eagerly awaited her arrival at 8pm Wednesday night.

CeeCee waiting at the door to welcome Tala home!

Congratulations Tala! The roses and card are for her – Tala loves roses. Let me just tell you that she is going to be one of the best counsellors. We already have big plans for her future practice. Tala has such a gift for helping others, and her gentle and loving nature will aid her in touching lives. Anyone who goes to her for help is going to be seriously blessed and shout exclamations such as “Where has Dr. Burnison been all of my life.”

Homemade pizza was on the menu – with roasted red peppers and spinach.

And spinach salad with strawberries and sugared pecans. I toss this salad with balsamic vinaigrette. But first just put the spinach in a bowl and toss with just the balsamic vinegar. Next heat up a little extra virgin olive oil in a small pan on the stove. When the oil is hot, take the pot off the stove and pour over the spinach leaves. The leaves will crackle and shrivel, which is the effect you are looking for, so it will appear as if you have heated the spinach and it won’t be as crunchy. It’s really delicious – then toss with fresh-cut strawberries and toasted sugar-coated pecans.

We love you so much Tala and couldn’t be happier for you! If anyone would like to schedule an appointment with Tala there is a two-year wait (the length of her schooling), but get your appointment today, because there is a high possibility that she could be booked solid before she even graduates. Best to take care of these things when the opportunity presents itself eh?