When Faith and Hope Collide…Miracles are Born

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(gerdasmitart) Psalm 59:15

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and thou shall glorify me.”

Dear Reader:

Good Friday is definitely a day filled with paradoxes. Trouble and human suffering take center stage but do not leave victorious….God reigns instead. He delivers His Son, Jesus, into His waiting arms.

*You might recognize the artist’s name (title painting) from “Matt’s Story” a couple of days ago. Gerda painted St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope. Since that story was published I have contacted Gerda to tell her about the power of her painting and we are now friends. She has given me permission to use her paintings for the blog which is so generous. Her own story is amazing and one that will ‘be coming soon to a blog near you’… (Called Chapel Of Hope Stories.)

Today’s powerful story originated out of Jo and Colby’s visit last week…one that Jo told me orally and then left a journal sampling of the story for me to read. After hearing the highlights of one little girl’s ordeal of strength and courage I told Jo it was definitely an Easter story….because out of the ashes a little “Phoenix” arose to change other people’s lives through her own.


Meet Reese Burdette….a little eight-year-old girl who will steal your heart away. Now meet Pantene, her favorite dairy cow, who came to visit her, last June, at John Hopkins Children’s Hospital….a magical and amazing moment for both friends.

How they both came to be together for this photo might take some explaining…or as Paul Harvey used to say….It’s time to tell the “Rest of the story.”

Two years ago, over Memorial Day Weekend, Reese and her sister Brinkley went to spend the night with their grandparents at their farmhouse. Sometime in the middle of the night, Patricia,(grandmother) thought she heard a small cry and then she smelled smoke.

She woke her husband and told him to go to Brinkley’s room and get her while she went to Reese’s to check on her. Brinkley was fine and removed quickly by her grandfather to safety. Patricia, however, walked into a flaming inferno, as soon as she opened the bedroom door. Heroically she fought her way to the bed, got Reese, and they too made it outside.

The fire department was on its way and for a few minutes….it looked like everyone had miraculously survived this scary incident. Reese was talking excitedly about the fire but suddenly both she and her grandmother started having trouble breathing.

By the time the firemen arrived they knew that both Patricia and Reese needed serious medical treatments fast…they were taken to a hospital where they were immediately air-evacuated-Patricia to the Washington Medical Burn Center where she would stay for two months and Reese to John Hopkins Children’s Hospital where she still receives treatments today. Her new home became known as PICU-Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Reese’s burns covered 35% of her body but the most damaging problem dealt with her burned lungs from smoke inhalation. She would be put into an induced coma for four months. The amazing staff at PICU became very creative in altering some standard machines’ function to accommodate Reese’s individualized needs. Even so Reese lost her foot/leg to poor circulation….(Today Reese refers to her prosthesis  as “Leggo.”)


Justin and Claire, her parents, spent the first three months sleeping in the waiting room while she was in the coma. The slow head shakes and discouraging prognosis they continuously received from various doctors left them “at a loss for what to pray for.” 

Finally they decided to keep it simple: “Lord, please give us hope.

This day would prove to be a spiritual turning point in their lives. Right after making the decision concerning their prayers for Reese…a nurse walked up to them and introduced herself, “HI, I’m Hope and I will be assisting with Reese’s surgery today.”

(I have a strange feeling that when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his execution….finally resigning himself to God’s will, not his own…..I have a suspicion that the conversation ended later with “Lord, please give me hope.” )

Jo and Colby kept chanting a number while telling the story 662.…it was the number of days Reese has been away from home and her dairy cows….because you see…last Friday, March 18, a really “Good Friday” Reese went home. The whole community turned out to welcome her home again. All the students at her elementary school gathered along the streets yelling her name.



A photo session/family portraits was taken before their departure at the hospital and Reese’s AuntLaura who has (prolifically) chronicled her niece’s amazing ordeal and story summed up Reese’s character with this astute observation.

“As she sat on her daddy’s lap (for the first time in seventeen months) her tiny fragile hand inside his big. strong one, she noticed a tiny cut on his hand. She picked up her daddy’s hand, with her own, burnt, scarred hand and placed a gentle, healing kiss on the tiny wound. She was just mimicking something he’d had done to her hundreds of times in the first eight years of her life.

This moment, so full of raw tenderness, offers a tiny microscopic view into the beauty being raised from the ashes in the lives of the Burdette family.” 

Jo…I can not thank you enough for sharing this poignant, heart touching story with me to share with all of our readers. Someone, like Reese, restores all our hope in humanity.

So until tomorrow…”Lord, give us hope.”

” Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I emailed Jo Dufford with some questions of family relationships and Reese’s homecoming….Let me share with you a little bit more information concerning this precious child.. You can also google her name and several articles and videos will immediately pop up.

Reese is my great niece who lives in Mercersburg, Pa.  She spent 662 days in pediatric ICU at John Hopkins after the fire.  She went home on Friday (still on a ventilator and dialysis so still a way to go) to a big welcoming with purple banners and ribbons, school children standing beside road and yelling,” Love You, Reese” and the fire trucks leading their car through town (about the size Summerville once was).  They had a small bit on  last Thursday on the ABC national news.    

They allowed many things at JHH to try to boost Reese’s spirits.  One was they brought her and all her machines to an open area behind JH, and her dad brought a large truck with Pantene, her pet cow, to see her.    

She got home in time to celebrate her 9th birthday on Sunday.  Even her doctor came for the homecoming.   Thanks for thinking of her because she is definitely a miracle child.  Even her many doctors said it was more than they did, and even said her recovery so far was a miracle.   

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to When Faith and Hope Collide…Miracles are Born

  1. Honey Burrell says:

    Beautiful, most inspirational story! Yes, we all need HOPE in our lives.Thanks Jo and Becky for sharing! Love you all, Honey


  2. Jo Dufford says:

    Thank you, Becky, for sharing Reese’s story of hope, miracles and so many prayers (many from people Reese will never know). Speaking of hope and miracles, this week I saw a picture of her little sister and her riding on a tricycle, built to accommodate her machine, on the road leading to the cow barn. There have been so many praise prayers and tears of joy shed this last week. On this Good Friday, I am so grateful for this miracle and for the hope and assurance that we all have been given by Jesus’s sacrifice.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      It was a story that needs to be told and re-told…especially at Easter when hope reigns out over all over times.


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