Thursday, September 6, 2012

Boiling it Down

I was following
a recipe for blackberry
syrup last week,
trying to capture 
the flavor of 
warm sunshine on
plump berries which
to me, tastes just 
like summertime.

A vital step in making
syrup is boiling it down,
which leaves behind
the most delicious and
true essence of the
ingredients from which
it is made.

As I stirred and inhaled
the fragrance of boiling
berries, sugar and lemon
zest, I couldn't help but
compare the process of

boiling it down

to the lessons the universe
had been revealing to 
me in those last weeks 
of the summer.

On August 7th my cousin's
seven year old daughter,
Campbell, was diagnosed
with a rare form 
of leukemia.

Then, on August 27th 
one of my best friends, 
Kathleen, called to
tearfully share that
her doctors had found
a mass on her lung, a
mere two years since
she was diagnosed and
treated for breast cancer. 

Suddenly, my own day
to day concerns seemed to
bubble up and 
boil away.

The true essence
of life came into
focus for me, 
loud and clear,
once more:

good health,

family and friends



When you boil it down,
these essentials are 
irreplaceable and more
precious than any things
we can possibly own.

When you boil it down,
if you and those you love
enjoy good health, 
everything else 
in life is simply 


When that syrup of life
is condensed to what is
most essential, we savor the
sweetness like never before....

And realize how 
we really are. 

Four little jars of blackberry
syrup are now nestled on
my pantry shelf.  I know 
that in the cold months to
come, when I sample this
summer in a jar, I will also
taste all of the blessings in 
my life that are so easily
taken for granted.

I sincerely hope that each
one of you reading these
words is able to rejoice
in your own good health,
family, friends and love.

I so hope.

And if you have a moment,
please send positive thoughts
and prayers for Campbell and
Kathleen as they bravely
fight the good fight.


Today I am joining Patty at

where she asks bloggers
to share a moment of
beauty that they captured
from their week.


NanaDiana said...

Oh- Suzanne- That just makes my heart ache to know these two are going through such struggles. I will be praying for both of them.

I love your sweet story about the boiling down and refining ourselves. I hope I do that always- xo Diana


Ah, Suzanne, I am so sorry to hear about illness for people you love. I just said to Dave last night ... there are so many people really suffering right now. I am happy to lift them up to the Lord Jesus in prayer. And for you, too, as you comfort them.

It is so easy to take things for granted. Thanks for the great illustration.


Jeanie said...

Many prayers for both Kathleen and Campbell are coming your way and theirs. And those prayers extend to you, for it's hard to love people and see them face such challenges. Your post is a timely reminder of health, of gratitude, of cherishing each day. Thanks.

Marie said...

Keeping your friends in my prayers and sending some extra love your way. (((((hugs)))))

Beth said...

You always seems to have the ability to make me stop what I'm doing and appreciate my situation. Thank you for the reminder today. I'm so sorry to hear that two precious people to you are fighting at the moment . I only wish them the best.

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Oh Suzanne, I'm so sorry to learn this news. Just when everything was looking so positive for Kathleen too.
I'll definitely be thinking of you all. xx

Happy Homemaker UK said...

So heartbreaking. We got the news of someone in our extended family having cancer too. What a long, hard road. Prayers for all of them. Blessings my friend, Laura

Biz said...

I don't like to tell someone I'll pray for them without actually praying for them immediately, so allow me a moment to pray over Campbell & Kathleen.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come to you today with a heavy heart. Hearing that a child is ill is heart wrenching. As parents we want to protect our children and yet this is a time when that is not an option. We are entrusting Campbell to you. We are letting go of our hold and allowing you to place you hands on her. Lift up her and her sweet family during this time of difficulty.
In the same sense it is never easy to see anyone struggle so much. Kathleen has been here before and with you has beaten cancer before. We ask that you will place your hands on her as well. Lift up her and her sweet family.
In both cases, Lord we as that you will surround them with a hedge of protective thorns, that you will send your angels to sit beside them through each step of the process. We ask that you will guide the doctors hands and give them a clarity in diagnosing and treating each case individually. Almost as if it was the only case they were working on.
All things are possible through you, thank you for your many blessings.
In your name we pray, Amen.

Farmgirl Paints said...

Oh girl...didn't know about Kathleen. My heart hurts for and you! Life is so unexpected...we do just have to appreciate the good and enjoy God's gifts around us. Even that sweet fragrant berry smell...God's blessing right there.

Sherri B. said...

Thank you for this reminder. After my sisters bout with breast cancer and then our daughters journey through treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, I feel 'raw' at times. They are doing well now and I have to keep reminding myself that it is behind us. Your example of the syrup is a good one, especially for me as I have been steadily picking the berries along our driveway and thanking The Lord for all of His Blessings...He truly is faithful.

I have added sweet little Campbell to my prayer list along with your dear friend Kathleen.

Enjoy your syrup! xo

A Vintage Chic said...

Oh, so beautifully written and shared, Suzanne....I really needed these words today.

Life has gotten so very busy and I truly needed your lovely analogy to see things clearly. Not that I don't appreciate all that I have amid the hustle and bustle, but I tend to let the UN-important things cloud my vision a bit and blur those things that are SO VERY important...

...going to clear the clouds today.

Thank-you for reminding me.

I will keep your dear friends in my prayers...wishing you a beautiful day, dear friend.


Lisa at Shine Your Light said...

Suzanne, my heart is heavy with your news. I will keep Campbell and Kathleen in my prayers. God bless them both.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

True words, perfectly and poignantly written. When all is said and done, the only thing remaining is the love we have given away and the love we share. Nothing else matters anymore. It is stunning to note that when someone is breathing their last breath in this world, the last three words on their lips is, "I LOVE YOU." Love never ends. But the battle that these two important souls are dealing with is one that cannot be fought alone. How blessed they are to have you and others to escort them down the path that we all walk on and will eventually meet up with the portal into eternity. My prayers extend to you and these two lovely ladies, Suzanne. Thank you for reminding me of the lessons we need to learn as we live in this body. Anita

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Suzanne, I was so sorry to hear about your niece and just never knows what is coming in life. I had a "boiling it down" moment myself this week when my cousin suddenly died in a car accident. You are so right...everything comes into perspective. Your post and oh-so-important message are truly beautiful. I will keep sending good thoughts and prayers! XO

Low Tide High Style said...

Sending healing thoughts to Campbell and Kathleen...and taking this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate your friendship!


Tammy said...

Your analogies are always so poignant. I will keep Campbell and Kathleen in thought and prayer. Hugs and blessings, Tammy

Debby said...

It's so sad for both of them. Hope and ((((HUGS))))) and prayers for both of them.

Joanna said...

Sending sweet Campbell, Kathleen and their friends and families love and strength to help them through the difficult days, weeks and months ahead.

Every day really is a blessing.


Beatnheart said...

always beautiful....just as the songs you choose which so often introduces me to artists that I would never be aware of....your a rare jewel and to those in your world who are fortunate enough to know you have a something beautiful in their lives...peace and joy to you and your friends in their time of need.

Charm Bracelet Diva said...

Oh Suzanne, I cry for two reasons. One because these two innocent souls have to suffer, and two because I so needed to hear these words in my life this day. Thank you for reminding me of the real truth, and know that your beloved family and friend will be in my prayers.


patty said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your friends' struggles, Suzanne. And you are so very right. And you say it so beautifully, too. Prayers for Cambell & Kathleen, and hugs for you! Thank you for linking today/for sharing all of this beauty!


Susan T said...

It is frightening isn't it how our lives hang on a tightrope. We are consumed with so may little worries day in day out that we can forget those who struggle to hang on to life itself. All good wishes and prayers to Cambell and Kathleen.

Tiffini said...

Oh Suz..I am beyond sad as I read your words.
I was so excited to come visit..I've missed you so
and I needed to hear about boiling it down
it keeps me grounded..and focused.
i pray for strength to keep fighting
and an army of people to surround them
i love your heart friend.
i bought some of those little jars for my lotion...they are precious but boy in the light of your words all else seems trivial doesn't it?
happy Saturday...strength for you too as you comfort them

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...


You are INCREDIBLE the way you manage to weave your wisdom and beautiful take on heartache and suffering in amongst lovely, domestic moments.

It's one of the MANY reasons why I love your blog.


Teacup Mosaics said...

As the time goes on we realize that it is the little things that we take for granted that are so important. I am sending positive thoughts to the beauitful faces you shared with us. I know you are making a difference in both of their lives.

Charlene said...

I love your message in this post. It is my first visit to you but, oh I LOVE your style! I will indeed send up healing prayers for Campbell & Kathleen. NO ONE should have to fight that monster that starts with C!!!!! Been there, have that T Shirt & it stinks. What a beautiful world it would be without it. But, you were right... enjoy the important things every day! Have a great week

koralee said...

Life is so precious...your words are so wise! This is why I thank God morning and night. xoxo

Janie Fox said...

Praying for Campbell and Kathleen! This is my first visit to your blog. I love your words. SO true. The most important things in life are not things, they are people.

Kelly said...

My first visit to your blog but have been following you on Instagram! Your pictures paired with words are a tribute to your beautiful heart and what lies within. We have much in common. Our love of photography. Dogs named Gracie and degrees in Speech Communication. Quite intriguing to me. Your site is such a blessing to me. I will certainly be adding Kathleen and Campbell to my prayer list. Please remember...Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3) Grace and Peace

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Haven't been in a while... glad I came...lovely post. Beautiful thoughts. Gorgeous photos.

Loving wishes for good things for Kathleen and Campbell. Peace - shalom -- nothing missing, nothing broken.

pretty pink tulips said...

I'm so sorry to hear about these diagnosis' for young Campbell and your friend, Kathleen. I remember your sharing Kathleen's journey through breast cancer with us. I will hold them both in my thoughts and prayers.

xoxo Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your loved ones. I lost a very good friend to CA last year in December. It seems I am still not over the loss but it made me read and read and research the illness. I have been trained in traditional medicine but after all this research have found there may be some answers in non traditional medicine. ) everyone has CA throughout their lifetime, it only affects them when their immune system is not functioning properly they succumb to the disease process. It seems it has a lot to do with the ph of our blood. Our American diet makes us have a more acidic ph, if you change your diet and eat no sugar, no processed foods, etc your blood becomes more alkaline and better able to fight the disease. There is a lot of documentation on blood ph.
I hope things get better soon.

Lili said...

It is so sad to hear the kind of news your August brought. I will say a prayer for both Campbell and Kathleen. I love that you made blackberry syrup, that will indeed be a tasty treat this winter. Love those sweet tiny jars. xo ~Lili

Palomasea said...

Prayers and more prayers...
You speak the truth, dear Suzanne...