A Little Lighter Than Usual

The more I delve into my manuscript the more I realize how precious life is. The other day I sat there in a coffee shop awe-struck that I’m alive. God has such a distinct purpose for our lives and its beautiful and astounding to ponder. My manuscript is going well and will be sent out for review on Dec. 1.

Someone asked me to describe what writing a book is like, well, it’s a tremendous amount of work. Imagine the longest paper you ever wrote, which was probably 20 pages. And then add-on 200 more pages . Yesterday I rewrote a sentence 17 times. I’m my own worse critic. A page that I think is captivating and well written might not appear that way to an editor, which sometimes can be frustrating. My desk right now has a printer on it, reams of crisp white blank paper, ink cartridges, legal papers, my ipod, countless drafts of my manuscript, a binder 5 inches thick of notes, my flash drive, Rosary beads and my favorite crucifix. That crucifix has seen the twists and turns of my life and will must definitely be in my pocket at my book release. It’s the most precious thing I own.

I’m really grateful for the wonderful support people have shown me. But I ask for your prayers because equal to the encouragement people who shown, there are many people who have discouraged me. I know it’s only God’s calling that matters, so I ask for prayers so I can hold that thought in my heart and mind always.

Do you want to see the cutest little boy ever?

That’s my nephew Sean! I love him to pieces and can’t wait to see him soon. A few weeks ago he told me he wanted to make “cupcakes with his Aunt Maura.”My heart melted.

The other night I was writing late and made hot chocolate because it was cold. I thought it looked pretty, so I took a picture.

Then I walk into the kitchen and what do I see?

My roommate, Tala doing her homework while sucking a scorpion lollipop. Yep, I kid you not. See.

I thought, how gross. And she said it was fine because it was dead. To which I respond, I do not like bugs – dead or alive in my lollipops. 

She said it was fine because it was covered in sugar. So I said, if I had saved the hopper, dried out his carcass and covered him in hot sugar you would lick around him?

Who is the hopper you might ask? Good question! My roommate CeeCee wrote the following to our other roommate Mariu in an email, because Mariu was on call that night at the hospital and CeeCee didn’t want her to miss out on all of the fun we have while she is away.

Dear Mariu,

Tonight I planned to go to bed early. Last night was a late night and today was a long day. I went to leave my room a little while before bed, probably to use the restroom and I saw a huge bug outside of my room. I tried to run from it. It hopped into my room. Cute, right? I thought, oh maybe this will be fine. I will be able to sleep with a hopper in my room. Then I could hear it hopping and doing other bug stuff that bugs do. Then I looked under my bed after pulling some shoes out and I saw it under my bed against the wall. I was afraid it was going to get me while I was sleeping so I made a wall of pillows around me.

Then I realized that a hopper can just jump over a pillow wall. By the way, did I say what a hopper was? Its mom is a spider and its dad is a grasshopper. This is just speculation, but the two mated, and formed a super-jumping-ugly bug. This is the hopper that decided to mess with me today.

By the way, I am also very afraid of bugs. I scream a lot, or rather, I squeal in terror at them. So, I was looking for a broom and Maura saw me and said she would kill it if she could get a napkin. She is not one to be afraid of bugs. Then she saw the ugly thing and decided it was too hoppy for her to try to kill. Then we got the vacuum cleaner and tried to suck it up.

Only it was faster than us. Maura thought it had gone left towards my night stand, because she had seen it jump left. Now I know the number one rule of bugs in the bedroom is that if you see it go to the left it actually has somehow jumped without your eyes detecting it, to the right! I know, I know, unbelievable! So then we cleared out all my shoes from under my bed, and we look a lot to the left. Then I stood there just perplexed hoping we would find it. Maura had kinda thought it wasn’t going to happen, but I couldn’t go to bed until we got it out.

Then Maura said, “It’s behind you!” and of course I screamed like a girl really high-pitched like. Then Maura suggested we name the hopper. I had been calling it a him up to this point so she decided to name him Chadwick. I don’t know why.

So, we had really had enough. He had last been seen behind me over by the dresser. So this was the moment. We knew we had to do something serious. Radical. Radically available, what? So, we moved some things underneath the dresser and there was the little hopper just waiting. This time Maura knew what to do. We got serious. She said, “We are going to pray a Hail Mary and then turn on the vacuum.” So we prayed a Hail Mary, positioned the vacuum in the right place, and she asked St. Francis to pray for us, and then Maura slowly moved the vacuum hose into the position.

Then she said, “Turn it on now.” And you wouldn’t believe what happened next!!!! We got it. We sucked it up. Just to make sure everything was fine we took the vacuum outside and then checked the vacuum. Maura saw it in there and dumped it out into the grass!!! We got the hopper! We got the hopper!

All glory and praise be to God who is almighty and gives us the strength and precision to suck up the hopper in the vacuum. God is so good!!! (And Maura is my hero).

I hope you have a great night. God is real and answers prayers. Amen.

Love, CeeCee

That was the hopper and I dare anyone to eat him on a stick.

Okay, moving right along…well, I’m falling asleep, so I’m going to wrap up for tonight. I hope to post something deep tomorrow. But, before I go, guess what I made?

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I came home and started vacuuming, taking out the trash and making cookies all at the same time. I am very much my mother’s daughter in that regard.

My mom would always make us fresh cookies at the weirdest times. For example the kitchen would be a mess or she would have a million other things to do and what does she do? Make cookies!

This week was also my brother James’ birthday. James is a very special brother and I love him very much!

Well my friends, sleep with the angels and raise with the saints! Thank you for reading my blog and please continue to pray for Made in His Image!



I had a very productive morning. My alarm went off at 5:00 am and I debated for a few seconds if I should really go running or not, my mind plays this game with me at least a few times a week. Here were my options – get up right now and go running as planned, which would mean leaving the warmth of my bed for shorts and T-shirt. Or reset my alarm for 6:30 am so I could make 7:00 am Mass on time, which turned out to be a Communion service this morning (which was mildly frustrating). And then I got to thinking, maybe that shouldn’t really bother me? I mean after all I am still receiving the Body of Jesus Christ. Well, anyway I still haven’t come to terms with how I should or shouldn’t feel about this. Please don’t misinterpret, I was still very much excited to receive Jesus, I just really like going to Mass.

Okay, I  rambled on there – sometimes I wonder, do I write like I talk? Or talk like I write? However that works, I wonder if I do that. I’ll have to ask my sister Clare, she would know. Speaking of Clare, I was just about to text her to ask her how to spell a word. Clare is a genius, she has been known to ruin the entire curve in grad classes. I was never a very good speller, but then when I picked up the phone to text her I realized I would need to know how to spell the word if I was going to text it to her. She is in class so I couldn’t call her and no I’m not going to say what word it was because it’s far to embarrassing. You know those simple words that you sometimes forget how to spell and then when you figure it out you’re like oh yeah I totally knew that? Yep, that’s what happened.

Okay for real, back to the topic at hand. So, I did get up and go running and there were actually several runners outside running this morning, which made me feel slightly less insane. I think the earliest I have seen another fellow human being up and running was 4:30am. All of my 4:00am  runs have been alone in the stillness. Sometimes I like it that way and other times I like to see people.

So after running I went to Mass, well Communion service, but you already know how I feel about that. While praying after I read today’s reflection from In Conversation with God. Today’s reflection was on the Our Father. I really loved it and want to share it with you.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches that the Lord omitted other words which might have induced awe or fear in us. He wanted to use a word which would inspire love and confidence in those who were praying. What word could be more agreeable than ‘father’, so full is it of tenderness and affection? Jesus chose the word Jewish children used to address their fathers. This was the word He found most suitable for invoking the Creator of the entire Universe. Abba! Father! 

St. Cyprian says that when we pray the Our Father we should take care to savor those sweet words, Abba, Father, my Father. This prayer will then have a decisive influence on our daily life because if we really mean that God is our Father, we will struggle to behave as His worthy children. – In Conversation with God, 185.

Well dang, there it is! And it’s only 7:30am. I sat there in complete awe. It certainly wasn’t the first time I had heard that message before, but it left me speechless. I’m an heir to the Kingdom of God. Holy Cow! I mean, Praise God!!

So, armed with Jesus, some good endorphins from a great run and back home for some coffee and breakfast – I’ll be unstoppable. Today is going to be a glorious day!

Good times at Bethany

Everyone at Bethany (our home) is busy, busy, busy. Vanderbilt resumed classes last week, so CeeCee and Elizabeth have been very busy with planning Bible studies, student events, meeting with students and attending meetings. CeeCee and Elizabeth are Catholic Missionaries on Vanderbilt’s campus through FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). It’s really beautiful to see how much they love the students and how they truly give their very hearts to them through countless hours of self-sacrifice. The students at Vanderbilt are blessed to have them love them.

Dr. Carlo (sweet little Mariu) started a new rotation at the Hospital and it’s exceedingly stressful on her. So, if you would like to offer a prayer for her and her patients I know she would most definitely appreciate it. We all know she is going to do great!! After all she is a Harvard graduate! They train ’em well over there! And she looks so professional in her little white coat! St. Gianna, please interceded and protect her and those she serves!

Tala started classes last week at Vanderbilt. She is studying to get her Masters in psychology and counselling. I mentioned once before that I highly recommend you call her secretary (me) and set up your appointment to see her if the need should arise. She already has a two-year legal wait limit (school is 2 years). She is a great listener and offers sound and prudent advice, but we just want to make sure everything is legal, which is way we suggest you wait the two years. She is going to be the first Catholic female psychologist that Nashville has ever had. I might recruit her to work at my clinic.

Mariu got us all free tickets to a Sounds Baseball game last week and it was such a fun night. First Mariu and I crashed Tala’s graduate school opening dinner for free fajitas, beer, and margaritas. We are all about free food, but most importantly we wanted to be there for Tala. We couldn’t just send her out into the world without knowing where she was going to be everyday. We had no other choice but to attend. After we met Therese (Little Flower), sorry I have nicknames for everyone, at the baseball game. We had a blast together and I think the people behind us thought we were acting a little young for our age, but you only life once.

Here we are together- Tala, me, Therese and Mariu

This began the Mariu and Tala photo shoot.

One might think we were at the beach or something, but no this was at the baseball game. We didn’t really pay attention to the game actually and I have no idea who won. I love sports, but just loved being with the girls and was to in love with life to notice the score board. I also have really long legs apparently.

And these are pictures I took just playing around with my camera of one of my favorite dinners.

This is one of my favorite meals- a little red wine, rustic farm bread with extra virgin olive oil and pepper for dipping, and a salad with grilled chicken, corn, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, spiced pecans and parmesan cheese. So good!!

And here is a quote to leave you with…

Blessed is the woman who has a smile in her voice, a sparkle in her eyes, a song on her lips, a spring in her step, a warmth in her touch, a depth in her beauty, a purpose for her life, a joy in her faith, and love and hope in her heart. ~William Arthur Ward

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?

Weekend lovin’…better late than never (part 2)

A few weeks ago my roommate Dr. Marlo Carlo finished one of her most intense rotations at the hospital – the ICU. Mariu is one of the coolest people you will ever meet. She loves Jesus with all of her heart, can throw a football better than most boys, along with leading her football team to victory by winning MVP, can work thirty plus hours at a time at the hospital taking care of patients and she never complains. To celebrate Mariu’s completion of her ICU rotation we grilled out back and shared good times with friends.

As we were getting ready to grill, Little Flower (Therese) came home from getting her hair cut. She also got feathers put in. I had never heard of “feathers” before Little Flower told us about them. She really wanted them, so she was excited to show us.

Here they are up close and personal.

Oh, Little Flower I love you.

Getting the kabobs ready.

Before you start make sure to soak the skewers in water for about a half an hour to prevent them from scorching or burning on the grill.

Kabobs are really easy to make and delicious to eat. First wash the vegetables you are going to use, cut them into generous size pieces and stick them on the skewers. Done and done, so easy! You can put meat or seafood on there too. We used red meat, but you can use chicken, shrimp, etc.

Mariu helping to make her own celebratory dinner. That wasn’t very nice of us to make her work…

Ready for the grill!

Kate came over to celebrate Mariu! Enjoying a delicious drink that Little Flower made her.

It’s grillin’ time!

I LOVE asparagus! And it is so easy to just throw on the grill. l lightly coat it with a little extra virgin olive oil prior to grilling and season with a little pepper and salt after grilling.

Ready to eat!

Beautiful beautiful friends – Mariu, Tala and Kate.


Best friends – so cute and beautiful!

Kathleen came home from Martha’s Vineyard and brought us a house gift.

Which they made me open. I don’t like opening gifts when everyone is watching, which is why they made me do it. And I’m not really sure what Therese is laughing at. 🙂

Kate and I – love you Kate.

After dinner some boys showed up on our front porch for some brownies, ice cream and live music. Mariu taught Tala to play the violin, but the even more remarkable fact is that Mariu taught herself.

I love that shot of Mariu.

Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Mat Kearney’s twin – Matt Faley!

It was a fun night to celebrate Mariu’s accomplishments! She’s a doctor guys! And I think that’s amazing! After dinner we ate peanut butter swirl brownies topped with vanilla bean ice cream. And amidst chilled beers and after dinner drinks Matt and Mariu played into the wee hours of the morning and we sang songs, laughed and shared life together. It was chill; I love evenings like that. Congratulations again to sweet little Mariu. Until next time, keep living, laughing and loving. Love those that are closest to your hearts and those that need to feel love, the genuine love that comes from a tight hug, a warm smile, a gentle touch, a reassuring word and most importantly the love that Christ has placed in your heart. Give that to others, show them His beauty through you!

Happy Anniversary James and Susan!

One year ago today my brother James married his best friend – Susan! Their wedding was in San Diego, CA. It was a beautiful day and they were surrounded by family and friends as they pledged their love to each other before God for the rest of their lives. These pictures are in memory of their special day. They are credited to Robert Wagner Photography. Check out his work – he is an amazing photographer.

Happy anniversary to James & Suzy! I love you both so very much!! Thank you for being such a marvelous witness to me!


This and that from the weekend

I couldn’t help myself and tried that recipe for the granola bars that I posted a few days ago. I made them when I came home Friday night. Weird to some I know, but when I get a recipe I haven’t tried I can’t help myself. And if I have all of the ingredients in the house then there is no turning back. It’s like giving an artist new brushes, a vibrant assortment of paint and a stark white canvas – of course they are going to start painting. A few followers asked for pictures and here they are.

Since I had never tried this recipe before I didn’t know what to expect. A few kitchen notes: the peanut butter was a little overpowering. The recipe called for 1 cup. I would add a half cup next time.

Since there are so many delicious items in there you don’t want to take a bit and only taste the peanut butter. My favorite are the cranberries inside them. I also brushed the walnuts with a little cinnamon before adding them, which makes them extra delicious. It’s really easy to do – lay the walnuts on a cookie sheet and brush with a generous amount of well beaten egg whites, then coat with cinnamon sugar and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

These bars were very chewy, so if you want them to taste like a traditional granola bar I would cook them for 10-15 minutes longer than what the recipe calls for. Also, you could vary the contents by adding chocolate chunks, coconut, etc. They are delicious! Enjoy!

On Saturday during my break at the bakery I spoke with my graphic designer. My logo is being designed!! I am so incredibly excited!!! She got me all fired up for this ministry – man oh man I just can’t wait. I felt like a little child who wakes up at 4am on Christmas morning, pushes back their covers, runs into their parents room and jumps on their bed telling them that Santa came and that it’s time to get up to open presents.

She asked me a few more questions about my life story and what I want people to feel/think when they see this design. She conveyed her thoughts to me and I told her that I trust her ability very much. When I got back into the bakery, I wept joyful tears of thanksgiving. What God has done in my life is a miracle. I thought back to an exceedingly dark night when I literally fell to the ground and begged Him that my suffering wouldn’t go in vain, that He would use it for His glory. Made in His Image is for His glory and I can’t wait to share this ministry with the world.

When I got back inside the bakery after talking to her I forgot about the pain, I would go through it again, if it would help just one woman know her dignity. It not that I don’t remember it either, for we will always have our memories, but I choose not to dwell on it. God’s healing Hands are stronger than the deepest wounds of our hearts, even our physical wounds. What He can do, what He will do for you is beyond your biggest comprehension. Give Him your wounds today, give Him your heart. Let His Hands touch your heart. Let His glory transform your pain into healing.

Saturday evening I went out to dinner with Karissa and Sarabeth – two of my best friends in Nashville. We were celebrating Karissa! She just got into Nursing School, which is most definitely a cause for a celebration. Mango mojitos and many laughs were had by all. I am so proud of Karissa and love her very much! She is such a beautiful inspiration in my life!

Sunday was the feast of Saint Maximilian Kolbe! I mean it doesn’t get much better than that. I was a little concerned though as I drove to Mass Sunday night. I thought because it was a Sunday that the priest wouldn’t mention St. Kolbe in his homely. But just as the first note was played for the opening hymn I saw that my favorite priest was celebrating the Mass – Father Baker. At once I knew it was going to be okay, after all Father Baker is not one to miss an opportunity to tell a story or two about this heroic saint.

As usual his homily left me on the edge of my seat with much to ponder. He talked about the sacrifice that Saint Kolbe offered for the man he died for and how Jesus did the same for each one of us. The man who lived because of Saint Kolbe’s sacrifice could only thank Saint Kolbe with his eyes, but we can thank Jesus for His sacrifice with lives of holy and humble service to Him and His Church.