Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Muffin Madness: Blueberry Cream Streusel and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These two muffin recipes are perhaps my most popular and most requested dishes. I make these muffins weekly for a Local Bookstore/Cafe. They are especially tasty to eat warm with butter on top. They make a perfect on-the-go breakfast or a tasty snack. You can even make a batch and freeze them individually in ziploc baggies to pull out each morning and warm in the microwave. My 2 year old is especially fond of the "punkin" ones because he likes the "chocolate ips". The recipes are written to make 12 jumbo muffins or 24 regular size muffins or 48 mini muffins.

Enjoy! You are Loved!

Blueberry Cream Streusel Muffins

4 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sour cream
2 cups blueberries


2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, chilled

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 24 muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In large bowl beat eggs, gradually add sugar while beating. Continue beating while slowly pouring in oil. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt and baking soda.
3. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with sour cream. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over unbaked muffins.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins

My best Carolina gal shared this recipe with me and it has been passed along to many other friends who now call it “our favorite” muffin. It has become a regular treat in our Sunday School class.

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 - 15 ounce canned pumpkin

1½ cups oil

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups chocolate chips


Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add sugar, pumpkin, and oil. In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Blend dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.

I also like to mix it up by using cinnamon chips instead of the chocolate chips. Yummy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Autumn Weather, Rustic Oat Bran Bread, and a Blog Award

"You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever."

Psalm 16:11

I feel so blessed this week and have experienced the JOY of the Lord's Presence in an incredible way. We just returned from an amazing weekend in North Carolina and West Virginia celebrating my brother’s marriage to his beautiful bride, Heather. The time with family filled my heart with memories and joy, and the cooler temperatures and beautiful beginnings of Fall Foliage on the trees brought a sense of awe and thankfulness to my heart. When we returned to the usually HOT Rio Grande Valley in TX, I was pleasantly surprised with the much-needed rain and taste of Fall-like temperatures. One day this week it didn’t even get out of the low 60s. Now, that makes me happy! I am praising God for so many reasons but must of all, I thank Him for giving me the Fall that I love!

I love to make and eat homemade bread, and Fall is the perfect season to enjoy delicious, hot-from-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth bread. Because of the cooler weather that God gave us this week, we ate lots of soup, chili and this Homemade Rustic Oat Bran Bread. It is Super Healthy, Fairly Easy to make, and VERY Yummy. Enjoy!

Rustic Oat Bran Bread

2-1/4 to 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup oat bran or wheat bran
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons honey plus more for drizzling
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Crushed Pecans or Walnuts (about 2 Tablespoons)

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, oat bran, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat water and honey to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough (dough will be sticky). Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes. Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a round loaf or 12 small balls to make rolls. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or a 12 cup muffin tin coated with cooking spray if you wish to make rolls and sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. With a sharp knife, make three diagonal slashes across top of loaf. Gently press crushed pecans on the top of the loaf or rolls. Drizzle with honey. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 loaf (12 wedges) or 12 rolls.

Yet another reason to be thankful is that my Dear Friend, Teri Lynne at the awesome and inspiring Pleasing to You blog has given me this "HONEST SCRAP" award.

Thank you, friend of my heart! So, here's what I am supposed to do:

1.) Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award. ~ Thanks, my amazing, uplifting, beautiful (inside and out) southern friend!

2.) Share "10 Honest Things" about myself.

3.) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design or those who have encouraged me.

4.) Tell those 7 people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving.

Here's my 10 things ...

· I am SO not a morning person. I would sleep till Noon if the demands of life allowed.

· I desperately desire to have more children; it is my heart’s desire to be a Mommy to many children (biologically and hopefully through adoption one day).

· I have been told that I am High Maintenance, and it is probably an accurate description at times. I like to be spoiled and I love to be loved.

· I RARELY buy anything at the store without a coupon. If I forget my coupon organizer, I simply turn around and go home. I love to save money and often come home with bags full of “free” or “almost free” stuff.

· I dream about moving back to North Carolina-my family, the mountains, the Beach, the trees, and so many memories. It is my prayer that God moves us one day.

· I have a “gift” room in my house. This room is full of gifts and gift decorating material. I LOVE to give gifts and have the most fun finding the perfect gifts for my friends and family.

· It makes me ill to leave the house with dirty dishes in the sink-that is my BIGGEST pet peeve. The dishes must be put in the dishwasher or washed or I will not have a Peaceful Heart-pretty obsessive, right?

So, there are a few little honest things about me. As for seven blogs that inspire and encourage me, here goes.

1. My dear friend, Teri Lynne (mentioned before) ... she inspires me, encourages me, prays for me, and reminds me that God has a sense of humor (one day I will explain how we “met” and you will laugh). Visit her at "Pleasing to You" and you will see her honest heart and her passion for loving God and others! http://pleasingtoyou.blogspot.com/

2. Teri Lynne’s sister-in-law, Beth, has a wonderful blog, "SEW ANYHOW”. Beth is extremely talented, is a mother to seven children, home schools, and loves God! She is a great example of the Proverbs 31 woman. http://sewanyhow.blogspot.com/

3. I admire and love spending time with Lana at" I Love My Five Kids" I met Lana through MOPS and she is truly one of the most genuine, wise, sweet, and loving women I have ever met. Check her out at: http://ilovemy5kids.blogspot.com/

4. "The White House" written by my friend, Tyne, is such a joy to read. Tyne has a beautiful wit and her posts will leave you laughing while send you seeking more intimacy with the Heavenly Father who loves you! She uses real life stories of her four “under four” to show our Father’s heart of love toward us. http://tynerbock.blogspot.com/

5. One of my Mentors and the Women’s Ministy Leader at our church, Gail, just started a blog at “Flowers in the Window” where she encourages others to “bloom where they are planted". Gail has a passion for living, and her smile brings joy to so many. She loves the Lord, and has a Heart for Sharing God’s love with Women. http://gailewing.blogspot.com/

6. "Intentionally Katie” is a blog that I have followed for about six months now. I appreciate Katie’s honesty in the challenges of parenting and love her tips for home organization, her menu plans, her recipes, and her passion for being a Godly wife and mother. http://intentionallykatie.blogspot.com/

7. InCourage is a new website that has AMAZING, real, honest, uplifting writings from several Christian women bloggers who desire to share God’s love through the Internet. I love that they encourage you to submit your prayer requests. They have recently been talking about “HOPE”-the Hope we have in Christ despite our circumstances and trials that we face daily. You will truly be blessed after visiting http://www.incourage.me/

I encourage you to visit these blogs and tell them that I referred you. You will love them just as much as I do-I promise!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Excitement, A New Sister, and Delish Cream Cheese Mints

I have so many reasons to be excited today. God is so Good! I have always thought that it would be wonderful to have a sister….well, after Saturday, I will! That’s right, my big brother, Jeffrey, is getting married to the love of his life, Heather Young. I am so excited for them, and praying for God’s richest blessings on their new life together. I am also excited because this will be the first wedding that I have been in, other than my own, of course. Darin is going to be one of the groomsmen, Jaythan is going to be the cutest ringbearer ever, and I am a bridesmaid. There should be lots of great photo-ops this weekend.

Most of my excitement about the upcoming weekend comes from the knowledge that I will get to see my family…my parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents. It will be like a family reunion! My Granny is one of the dearest to my heart, and she is currently fighting a battle with Alzheimers Disease. I look forward to the opportunity to hug her and spend precious moments with her that I can store in my heart. I have so many special memories of her. She taught me how to read, write, took me on field trips, taught me all about the Civil War (she’s a Dixie Gal ), and took me to Hardees every Thursday morning for a Steak Biscuit and Hashbrowns. She also taught me how to make homemade mints. We would spend all day making these for wedding showers, baby showers, and many other party requests. She even gave me her mint molds when I got married so that I can make them for others. They are absolutely “melt-in-your-mouth” delicious! They are FAR superior than any store bought mint that you can buy. I thought I would share the recipe with you. I encourage you to make some with your mom, grandmother, daughter, friend, etc… They may seem time consuming and tedious to make, but I encourage you to spend the time making them by talking, laughing, and learning about your loved one. Make a memory and enjoy their deliciousness together.

Granny’s Cream Cheese Mints

8 oz. cream cheese
1 lb. powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. peppermint flavoring
6-8 drops food coloring of your choice

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, flavoring and food coloring and mix until stiff. Roll into small balls. Dip in sugar, then press in to sugared mint molds to make shaped mints. If you do not have mint molds then simply flatten the small balls with a fork dipped in powdered sugar. Push out mints onto wax paper lined cookie sheets. Freeze until ready to serve.

Yield: about 8 dozen mints

Monday, September 14, 2009

100 Things That Bring Me Joy

My dear friend, Teri Lynne, has an AMAZING blog called “Pleasing To You”. God truly has His Hand on her as she is so gifted in writing Bible Studies, Encouraging others, Being an Incredible Wife and Mother, and being a truly wonderful friend. Be sure and check out her blog at: http://pleasingtoyou.blogspot.com/

Today, she is celebrating her 100th Post and has invited others to blog about something that brings them Joy. So, I am joining in the fun and blogging a list that I wrote several months ago of 100 things that make me happy. Just reading through this list makes me happy! I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes, sit down, and create your own list. Enjoy my list, but seriously...MAKE YOUR OWN! It's therapy for your soul. Don't start with 100...the task is too daunting. The first 10 or 20 will come pretty easy, then decide how long your list will be and keep it handy as you remember things throughout the day until you reach your own determined number.

Take out this list on the “not-so-fun” days, on the days when your toddler is being “very two” (not that I know what that feels like ;-)), or on any day when you need some cheering up. It will remind you of your many blessings and provide lots of options for “perking” you up. These are in no particular order, just pretty much how they came to me. Included in the post is a picture of my two favorite men who bring me joy daily.

1. my handsome, loving, Godly husband
2. being Jaythan and Savannah’s Mommy
3. my family
4. salvation
5. white roses
6. pretty sunsets
7. no dirty dishes in the sink
8. Jaythan giggling
9. knitting
10. scrapbooking
11. baking
12. butterflies
13. magnolia blossoms
14. bubble baths
15. reading a magazine
16. jetted tubs
17. hugs
18. being in Darin’s arms
19. hot tea
20. rainy days
21. my porch swing
22. flip flops
23. date nights
24. Vera Bradley
25. coupons
26. nordstrom’s salad at Renee’s Cafe
27. gerbera daisies
28. tickling Jaythan and hearing him laugh uncontrollably
29. Jaythan’s contagious smile and Big blue eyes
30. London
31. my birthday
32. spa pedicures
33. Karen Kingsbury books
34. fresh flowers in my kitchen
35. laughing
36. strawberries
37. the beach
38. someone else cleaning my house
39. spending time with my close friends
40. outlet malls
41. email
42. snuggling with Darin and Jaythan
43. praying with Jaythan and Darin
44. serving the Lord
45. holding Darin's hand
46. worship music
47. a comfy bed
48. blueberry bagels
49. my heavenly bed pillow
50. tomato soup and grilled cheese dinners
51. blackberries
52. my kitchen aid mixer
53. staying at Bed & Breakfast Inns with Darin
54. the mountains (specifically the NC mtns)
55. crossing things off a list
56. romantic movies (chick flicks)
57. holding Jaythan
58. peace and quiet
59. getting a massage
60. autumn leaves
61. sleeping late
62. the $ bins at Target
63. james avery jewelry
64. Pandora Jewelry
65. white hot chocolate
66. Darin's handsome face
67. cute pajamas
68. raspberries
69. sincere compliments
70. purses (particularly Coach and Vera)
71. things that are monogrammed
72. aprons
73. Ann Taylor
74. snow
75. pretty notebooks, notecards, stationary
76. the smell of pumpkin, cloves, and cinnamon
77. vacations
78. my original Thomas Kincade painting that Darin gave me when I graduate from UNC
79. Carolina (and all that that entails)
80. Yogurt Pump Frozen Yogurt
81. lip gloss
82. PSALMS (my favorite book of the Bible)
83. Fredericksburg, TX
84. love notes
85. clean sheets
86. lunch with a friend
87. fragrant candles burning
88. long chats with my closest friends
89. Sundays (church)
90. Jeremiah 29:11
91. buying gifts for other people & giving them the gifts
92. pumpkin pancakes from IHOP
93. York Peppermint Patties
94. Reeses peanut butter cups
95. cookbooks
96. windchimes
97. Jaythan’s hugs and kisses
98. angel food cake with fresh strawberries and cool whip
99. writing letters (the old-fashioned kind)
100. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Friday, September 11, 2009

Muffin Love

I love "playing" with recipes-taking a recipe and changing the ingredients and being creative with the toppings and presentation. One of my favorite things to bake is muffins. I recently "played" with a recipe for Banana Nut Muffins and developed my own version-"Cream Cheese Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins". I know that seems like a REALLY long name for a simple muffin so let's just call them "Creamy Cinnamon 'Nana Muffies".

I made these yesterday, and they filled the house with a sweet cinnamon smell and filled our tummies with contentment. Make some this weekend and spend some quality time with your family. Show those whom you love how you love them in very, real, tangible ways. Blessings to all!

John 15:12
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."

Creamy Cinnamon ‘Nana Muffies

· 3/4 c butter, softened
· 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
· 2 large eggs
· 2 c sugar
· 1/2 tsp baking soda
· 1 1/2 c mashed bananas (1 1/4 lbs unpeeled bananas, about 4 medium)
· 1/2 tsp baking powder
· 1/2 tsp salt
· 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
· 3 c all-purpose flour
· 1 c Cinnamon Chips (Hershey Brand)
· Cinnamon sugar mixture for topping

· Step #1 Beat butter & cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
· Step #2 Gradually add sugar, beating until light & fluffy.
· Step #3 Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until mixed after each addition.
· Step #4 Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; slowly add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until mixed.
· Step #5 Stir in bananas, cinnamon chips, & vanilla.
· Step #6 Spoon evenly into 24 paper-lined muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar mixture
· Step #7 Bake at 350° for 25 mins or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
· Step #8 Cool in pans for10 min.
· Step #9 Remove from pans, & cool completely on wire racks.
· Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Burrell Family Mission Statement

Several months ago, one of the blogs I read suggested developing a Family Mission Statement that describes the goals and values that your family lives by. You post the Mission in your home and strive to live by it in your daily tasks. You can read the original post over at Simple Mom’s website: http://simplemom.net/back-to-the-basics-create-a-family-mission-statement/
The post written by Simple Mom gives you questions that you and your spouse/kids answer to determine what your values are. There are guides and tips on how to create your mission statement.

Darin and I answered these questions and recently developed our own family mission statement. I printed it out on nice cardstock paper, bought a beautiful picture frame from Kirklands for $4.99, and it is now proudly displayed in our kitchen. It is such a good reminder to us daily as a guide for how to respond to one another, how to spend our time, and how to serve each other and those whom God puts in our paths each day.

I have posted a picture of our framed Mission Statement and also included it below. I encourage you to do the same for your family. It really has made a difference in how we treat each other, what we value, and how we spend our days. Be Blessed! You are Dearly Loved!

We, The Burrell Family,
believe that our purpose as a
family is to Love Lavishly
and Give Completely.
We will accomplish this by:
Valuing selflessness and true
joy as our main guiding principles.

Making our home a place of
peace, joy, and encouragement.

Prioritizing integrity above
lesser values.

Interacting with each other in
a spirit of love, kindness,
and encouragement.

Making time for prayer,
devotions, relaxation, and

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Autumn’s Mosaic in my Home, my Heart, and my Kitchen

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” ~Stanley Horowitz

I LOVE Autumn. It makes me smile; it makes my heart smile; it even makes me do Jaythan’s happy dance. I am a Southern Girl who lived the first 20 years of my life in North Carolina where Seasons exist, and the leaves turn amazingly beautiful reds, yellows, oranges, and plums every September lasting until late November. I am convinced that the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC is a glimpse of Heaven on Earth given to us by God to make our hearts happy.

Unfortunately, where we live in far South Texas (Northern Mexico ;-)), seasons do not exist. It has been 100 + degrees here for what seems like forever. There are usually only 2-3 days per year that are “sweater worthy”. Oh, and did I mention that the only trees that we have are Palm trees? Thus, no reds, yellows, oranges, and plums to make my heart happy. But, alas, I have gotten used to the nonexistence of Autumn, and have decided that Autumn can live in my heart, my home, and my kitchen.

Even though it is only the beginning of September, I have already begun to decorate my home for the season. I am including pictures of my “touch of Autumn” and I hope they make you smile.

In my heart, I can decide daily to allow God’s warmth and presence to fill every part of my being. I can make time to spend playing in the park with Jaythan, taking walks with my hubby, and laughing over a cup of tea with my friends and family.

As for my kitchen, Autumn automatically makes me think of apples, Hot Chocolate, Pumpkin Pie, fresh breads, mouth-watering soups, and a Kitchen that smells like cinnamon and nutmeg. How could one not love the season that contains Thanksgiving, State Fairs, Hay Rides, and Caramel Apples? Or, not to mention, my birthday ;-)! So many reasons to celebrate J! Thus, I am going to start posting recipes over the next 2 months that make me think of Autumn-recipes that will fill your home and your tummies with satisfying warmth. So, invite your friends or family over, make some of these yummy goodies and enjoy Autumn to the fullest! Today’s recipe is a personal creation that I entered into a cookie contest when we lived in Fort Worth. They contain all the ingredients of Fall-caramel, apples, and cinnamon; and they taste like a caramel apple explosion in your mouth. Enjoy!

Be Blessed and Love Lavishly!
Christina B

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence


1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
¼ cup shortening
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 ½ cups coarsely chopped peeled tart apples (3 medium)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
1 bag (14 ounces) caramels)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Mix the brown sugar, butter, and shortening in a large bowl. Stir in 1 ¾ cups flour, the oats, salt, and baking soda. Reserve 2 cups of the oat mixture. Press the remaining oat mixture in an ungreased 13x9 inch pan.
Toss apples, 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour and spread over the mixture in the pan. Heat the caramels over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted; pour evenly over the apples. Sprinkle with the reserved oat mixture, pressing lightly.
Bake the bars 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.
Cut the bars into squares while they are still warm. Store covered in the refrigerator.
Makes 36 bars.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Love Whisperings & Savannah’s Smiles

I wrote the following journal entry in February of this year and posted it on our Caring Bridge site. I went back to it today when I was reminded of the love whisperings of God that I often ignore daily. This morning, as I took Jaythan to preschool I heard Christian Singer, Mandisa’s song, “God is Speaking”, on the radio. It reminded me that God is constantly trying to get our attention, trying to prove His love to us. We often get so caught up in our “busyness”, our pride, and our circumstances, that we ignore or miss His LOVE being whispered to us. When Darin and I see or feel God’s love, we call that a “Savannah Smile.” I encourage you to listen to this song and then read the entry I wrote months ago. And then, “Be Still” for just a moment and allow God to prove His Love for you. It may set you free from your burdens or just leave you breathless and overwhelmed with thankfulness. But, I know without a doubt that it will fill your heart with peace and warmth.


I Saw God Today-
In Savannah’s Smiles!
(written in February 2009)

There is a popular country song right now on the radio called “I Saw God Today” by George Strait. The chorus of the song is below:
“I’ve been to church, I’ve read the bookI know he’s here but I don’t lookNear as often as I should ... yeah I know I shouldHis fingerprints are everywhereI just slowed down to stop and stareOpened my eyes and man I swearI saw God today..”
Thursday, I truly saw God in so many ways-in so many “Savannah Smiles.” February 5th, Thursday, was our Savannah’s due date. It was a bittersweet day, filled with love, laughter, tears, and heartache.

It was a beautiful day on Thursday-high 70s and sunny, and we had a wonderful day as a family honoring our baby girl and her due date. Darin did take off from work and we went to the graveside and took two balloons. We spent quite awhile there, and the time was very healing. One of the balloons was heart shaped, covered in roses and said "I Love You"-we tied it to her vases. The other balloon said Birthday Girl and was pink with butterflies, daisies, and ladybugs on it. I read her the letter that I wrote her expressing our love for her, and then we released the balloon. Jaythan was so well behaved the whole time-he just wanted to sit in my lap by the grave and talk about the "futterflies" on the tombstone. It was almost as if he knew we were honoring/loving his baby sister. We took pictures, and I will include them on the website very soon. My heart was overwhelmed with love for my daughter and the deep yearning to have her here with us; yet at the same time it makes me smile to think of how happy she must be with Jesus. Happy and Safe! How I just wish that I could have looked in her open eyes for even a second so she could see how deeply I loved her. I just pray that she knows. I can't wait to meet her with open arms in heaven one day.

Throughout the day, I saw God in so many Savannah Smiles. First of all, the weather was perfect. A perfect day for chasing butterflies in heaven through fields of daisies as I imagine Savannah doing. God was evident through Jaythan as well, and our dear son provided us with many “Savannah Smiles.” He was so loving yesterday especially toward Mommy, and was very generous with hugs, kisses, and laughter. He wanted to be as near to me as possible-warming my heart tremendously. At one point last night, after about 6 really big hugs, I had the distinct feeling that God was wrapping His arms around me reminding me that He still very much loves me. To steal a line from the book, “The Shack” it was as if God was saying to me throughout the day, "My, my, my how I love you!" So, I saw God in the beautiful sunshine, in the flowers surrounding the cemetery, in Jaythan’s laughter, and in the smiles, hugs, and kisses from our precious son. I also saw God’s compassion in the compassion displayed in the many messages and phone calls from friends and loved ones who were praying for us throughout the day. God’s compassionate heart was seen through Jaythan as well. While at the cemetery, two other mothers came to visit their child who had died. These women did not speak English so I could not fully express my sorrow and sympathy to them except through a hug. As we watched and heard these women pouring out their hearts with tears streaming down their faces in grief, our dear son, stood by them saying, “Uh, oh, crying! A hug??” He patted one lady on the arm and reached for her in a hug. It was as if Jesus was squatting beside the graves and reaching out to all of us hurting mothers and saying, “I see your tears. I am so sorry. I am crying with you. I love you and I want to comfort you. Come rest in my arms-let me carry your burden for you.” I was overcome. Since I first learned that I was pregnant with a son, I began praying that he would be compassionate and loving, and my prayers have been answered multiplied by a million. He is the most loving child, and he is already showing us the compassion of Christ.

So, looking back on a day filled with sadness and joy, I thank God for His presence; but mostly, I thank Him for showing me His love on a day when my heart hurt so deeply over the loss of one of my greatest loves-my baby girl. It is my prayer that you too can stop, look, and listen and “see God today”. It may just be Savannah smiling down on you too!

"Blessed is sorrow, for it reveals God's comfort." ~ Henry Clay Trumbell

Empty Hands and a Heart Full of Hope

I often tend to hold onto things and carry burdens as if they are mine alone to bear. Specifically, I have been holding onto the grief and loss of Savannah pretty tightly over the last few weeks. A year ago last month, we received the fatal "triploidy" diagnosis, and that is when the grieving process began for me. Now, I often find myself aching with a hurt that is indescribable because I miss holding her in my arms. My baby girl would be 10 1/2 months old, and I wonder if she would be crawling, babbling, etc..."I know" that I am not supposed to carry such a heavy burden alone. "I know" that God longs to take the burden from me. So, my prayer today and over the next few weeks is that I can keep giving this burden back to Him until there is no longer any grief left in my heart to hand over to Him. And, once I have done that....I can't wait to see what amazing gift He places in my empty hands :-)!
The following verse has become my strength throughout the past year because it reminds me that God promises to give me HOPE, and it is something that I can ask for over and over again!

Jeremiah 29:11" For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all." Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Best of Both Worlds & Great Divide Ice Cream

My 2 1/2 year old, Jaythan, has his first crush. He is in LOVE with Hannah Montana. How did this start, you may be wondering? About 2 weeks ago, I decided to splurge and rented the new Hannah Montana Movie from Redbox for $1. As we watched this adorably cute movie, my son was MESMERIZED and threw the BIGGEST temper tantrum when he had to go to bed and quit watching it. He woke up the next morning asking for "Hannah". Needless to say, I had to return the movie to Redbox and then purchase the DVD so we could have "Hannah" anytime Jaythan's heart desired it. He watches the entire movie at least once a day and dances to all the songs. If we hear a song from the movie on the radio he goes ballistic. He is IN LOVE! He especially loves her song "Best of Both Worlds". I know it by heart now, I must admit.

I know this is random, but please bear with me as I try to make these ramblings make sense. I was singing "Best of Both Worlds" in my head last night while eating my favorite ice cream-Blue Bell Great Divide. For those of you who aren't from TX, Blue Bell is the BEST and ONLY ice cream you will ever eat if you try it just once. The Great Divide variety is half chocolate/half vanilla-in my opinion, the BEST of BOTH WORLDS :-). It makes me happy; as does Jaythan dancing to Hannah and clapping while shouting, "Hannah, Hannah!" And all of this randomness made me think about our daughter, Savannah Grace, who lives with Jesus now. We only had the privilege of being her parents for such a short time-6 1/2 mths gestation. But, while we were caring for her, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I loved her completely. And, deep in my heart, I know that she is being LOVED extravagently by Jesus. Last week, at our Women's Fall Friendship Dinner at Church the speaker gave me a glimpse of Savannah dancing and laughing through fields of flowers in heaven. This image has stayed with me, and I know that she is truly happy and completely whole and loved unconditionally. Savannah truly had and has the Best of Both Worlds. She was loved and protected fiercely throughout my pregnancy during her time here on earth, and now our Heavenly Father is laughing with her, dancing with her, and loving her in ways that I cannot even begin to imagine. Now, that makes me Happy :-)!

And, the totally awesome thing about this is that you and I also have the Best of Both Worlds. God loves on us throughout our lives here on earth with simple pleasures every day-a beautiful sunset, the perfect rose, a smile from our child, a hug from a loved one, etc... And, then we also get the privilege of having His awesome Love in our hearts and the incredible Promise of Eternity with Him-the Best of Both Worlds. Have you allowed God's love to pour through you into someone's life today? I encourage you to do so-it will fill your own heart with joy and make you as happy as a double scoop of Great Divide Ice Cream! Be blessed my friends!

For those of you who aren't familiar with our story, you can catch up at: www.caringbridge.org/visit/savannahgraceburrell