Waiting on the “Book Keeper”

Dear Reader:

I read the most beautiful piece of prose over the weekend…something I wish I would have memorized, or at least   had available (to use as an guide) when all my children were out of school and dating … looking for that perfect someone (who they all found which makes Boo very happy!)

Quotes Love Daily.Com.

 

“There are two people you’ll meet in

your life. One will run a finger down

the index of who you are and jump

straight to the part of you that

peaks their interest.

The other will take his or her time reading through

every one of your chapters and maybe

fold corners of you that inspired them

most.

You will meet these two people;

it is a given.

It is the third that you’ll never see coming.

That one person who, not only finishes your

sentences, but keeps the book.” 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

That last line touches my heart and soul. How romantic! A few hours after reading it and putting it on the blog post, however, I suddenly saw another perspective from these lines of prose. Isn’t God each of our own book keepers?

Isn’t God the One Who we  never see coming….the One Who can finish our sentences before we say them and the One Who is definitely keeping our book tucked away for that “special day” when we get to read it ourselves?

Don’t we have choices every day to search for God and find Him in the mentally challenged grocery boy with the big heart and constant smile on his face? On the face of the harried young mother who smiles with relief at a stranger waiting in the grocery line behind her …the one keeping her toddler laughing and giggling at magic acts to prevent the toddler from screaming or trying to climb out of the buggy?

Every day we make choices about what goes into our Book of Life…we can fill it with useless trivia, gossip, or even personal wall-building to keep others from interfering with our precious time, space on earth, or  planned events.

Or we can remember what the power of one kind act each and every day can do- “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” -Amelia Earhart.

So until tomorrow…Let start planting a forest of kind acts together…think about how pretty the pictures will be in all of our “Books of Life.” A forest instead of barren land.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*For the first time a large camellia bush/tree is blooming outside my computer window. It is located right behind the moon flower trellis. The blooms are too high to pick …but when they fall…their beauty lives on… (what are a few brown spots among “mature adults?:) These are the ones I like to put in a small water jar and let them enjoy their last few snippets of beauty and time on earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Camellia and Candle Day

Dear Reader:

Yesterday was such a wonderful  “comfort food” kind of day. Actually I did go with friends to Cracker Barrel for some great home cooking…(or as close to as possible if you don’t want to home cook.)

I woke up early and found myself out in the 30’s temperatures cutting camellias (and a rose, Jo, from yours and Colby’s rose bush) to bring inside and brighten up the house…Yesterday was heavily overcast, cold, and dampish-feeling …the kind of wet cold that seeps into the marrow of the bones.

I just wanted to settle into serenity….take time to unwind…and bring in all the comforts of home around me like a wonderful old quilt or blanket. I wanted the lights soft and the fire low.

 

*But I was also ready to watch the stream video of the Clemson parade today ….so much happiness…so much joy! And I did wear my new Clemson t-shirt everywhere I went! Thank you Sam, Donna, and Dana!!!

 

 

One of the places (of “everywhere I went”) was over to Anne’s to drop off a book…Instead of cutting camellias like me…she had been up at the crack of dawn going to Lowes to get lots and lots of azaleas…Anne, too, was craving color during the “dead” season of the garden and yard…and boy did she get them….a picture of Anne’s trunk.

While looking at Anne’s beautiful camellia bushes…I pointed to one camellia that I loved …with just a touch of a yellowish tinge…she told me that one had gotten too much water on it and was fading…but in its imperfection it was perfectly beautiful to me…as much so as the perfect camellia next to it.

 

Anne then pointed out her  “Hope” in her garden…not four cloth-letters spelling Hope but hope in the form of a soon-to-be blooming daffodil.

 

 

 

 

One picture stood out for me from all the fun…tributes, speeches, and awards at the Clemson parade yesterday…Mollie saw it and sent it to me….she loves Lachlan, the “other” Clemson Tiger…since she and Walsh have a little Lachlan. Most Clemson fans know the story behind Lachlan the Tiger and its symbolism…but if not…every one should. (*And to know that time was taken on this festive occasion to bring Lachlan the Tiger to the forefront again speaks volumes.)

Lachlan McIntosh Tannery was diagnosed with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia, a extremely rare disease which affects around three out of every million children, when he was just 19 months old. Lachlan underwent a bone marrow transplant and spent much of his time in the hospital with his family, but relapsed at the age of two.

To honor Lachlan’s memory, the Clemson community named a stuffed tiger after him, and Lachlan the Tiger can frequently be seen in photos across Clemson’s beautiful campus.

Today there is a website for anyone who would like to donate in Lachlan’s name or sign up to be a bone marrow transplant donor. (Lachlanshope.org)  This link also contains little Lachlan’s story.

So until tomorrow….Let us remember that community is bigger than football or any sport…community is about the people in it and caring for each and everyone. Go Tigers…Go Tiger Lachlan!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

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Character First…Circumstance Second

Dear Reader:

I returned for my weekly Friday morning appointment yesterday at the Comprehensive Wound Center. And guess what? It wasn’t raining…this is the third Friday since I started going for treatments in mid-October that it hasn’t rained! Hallelujah! Finally… most of the ‘gang’ was back from the holidays and from taking some vacation days over the holidays. It was good to see Jim and Bobbie again…along with my “new” helpers… Kathy, Greg, and always the wonderful Dr. Stroud.

I am slowly but surely getting there with this new Affinity treatment. Out of a possible ten treatments I am allowed…we are now at number 6. I think I have had more treatments than anyone else but I keep telling myself that there is no race in this…just trying to get it healed completely. Apparently the location of this wound…right under my ankle… plays a big part in the lengthy healing time.

From a silver dollar size wound…I now have about a nickel size circumference. And the best thing…my foot no longer hurts! It is a miracle…I can walk on it with absolutely no pain. After drowning in pain for so long…it feels like ‘walking on water’ or the closest I will ever get to it.

And I finally found some canvas “mules” that are so much lighter than those clunky black “croc’s” that I have worn for over three months daily. As far as my feet are concerned…I am ambling along…springing forth with pleasure in mid-winter weather.

I phoned and texted Mollie to see if she was home to drop some packages off for her and discovered she is in Palm Beach on a Beauty Counter conference with some local Charleston area  participants. Hope the conference goes well Mollie…have fun.

Walsh was holding down the fort and we had time to catch up some while Eloise took her morning nap.

I brought her a birthday present…a numbered Dolly Dingle doll in a limited series…she loves Dolly!

 

Dolly Dingle dolls, paper dolls and all other merchandise (boy’s name- Billy Bump) morphed from a popular doll series created by Grace Drayton in the early 1900’s to becoming the image/icon for the Campbell Kids on soup cans.

 

With good weather yesterday and a more promising prognosis the hard times of the past three months seemed to be sliding farther and farther back into my memory. I am now looking forward to the future and I have a new appreciation for my former “normal” life…”normal” is good!

When I came across an article on some ways to help one through the hard seasons and days of life…I compared my thoughts with the four objectives of the author in these excerpts… ( “Four Things to Remember When Life is Hard…Dave Willis)

Struggles in life are inevitable, but destruction is optional. Remembering these four principles can make all the difference.

1. Remember that your Character should always be stronger than your Circumstances.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we choose to respond. In those moments when I choose to stop complaining and instead give thanks to God for the good in my life, the parts that seem bad start to seem much less significant. Choose to keep a positive attitude and thankful heart regardless of what you’re going through.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

2. Remember that your Struggles always lead to Strength.

Every difficulty in your life, whether big or small, is something God will use to produce more strength, faith and perseverance in you if you let Him! All your pain has a purpose.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28

3. Remember that God’s timing is always perfect.

God’s plans are almost always different from our plans, but His plans are always perfect! Have the patience to wait on His timing instead of forcing your own.

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

4. Remember that God will never leave your side.

You may feel like you’re going through this struggle all alone, but from the moment you ask Jesus to bring you into God’s family, He will be by your side to the end so never lose hope!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

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So until tomorrow…As I re-read the author’s four guidelines for healing when times are hard…I could relate to each thought and upon hindsight thank God for each blessing I received… disguised initially as a hardship.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I am so proud of my car that I decided to “crunch the coins” and get front and secondary seat floor covers with the highly advertised Weather Tech floor mats…especially designed specifically for each individual car model. They came yesterday and Luke put them in with a flash…no problem. I plan on keeping Surcie looking good for as long as I can!

 

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Around the Bend…

*(Original Painting- Anne Peterson)

Dear Reader:

How many times in life have we felt like we are being swept along a raging river… unable to stop or slow down the currents forcing us around unknown bends after bends… while hanging on for dear life… unable to decipher the present or future? We are just in survival mode.

Then one day we round a bend in the rushing river and everything calms down…we see an exquisite landscape and even perhaps…a magnificent waterfall before us. It is beautiful beyond words…to the point that  uncertainty and fear (of this dramatic change in life) are swept away as fast as the current swept our lives into this unknown future. We are home again… deep down in our souls. 

The title painting called “Around the Bend” was painted by Anne while she personally was going through uncertain challenges affecting her definition of home and security. (I read once that animals understand there is no such thing as “security” and live their lives in the moment…it is only we humans who try to hang onto it with everything we have…usually to no avail.)

What got me thinking about man’s take and trust in other humans’ stability and security is explained in the following poem… comparing rivers and homes.

“People Aren’t Homes”

Nikita Gill

 

Child, Why did no one

ever teach you that you

cannot turn people into homes?

 

People are rivers, ever changing

ever flowing. They will disappear

with everything you put inside of them.

 

Still, your home does have

a heartbeat. But it isn’t one

locked in anyone else’s chest.

 

Just look inside

your own.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

When I reflect back on my own life, I now recognize how easy it can be to live under the umbrella of another… until the day we realize that there are different bends in the river for each of us… which we must follow. And in our quest for home and security we must find our own heartbeat first…by looking inside ourselves and unlocking our own “happy places.”

So until tomorrow…”The river moves, but it follows a path. When it tires of one journey, it rubs through some rock to forge a new way. Hard work, but that’s its nature.” Kekla Magoon

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

A shout-out to Dana….Donna Clark’s daughter and my former student. Donna dropped me off a “hot-off-the press” National Championship Clemson t-shirt yesterday afternoon. Dana had sent them to all of us! Wow! That was fast! Thank you, thank you, thank you Dana, Donna, and Sam! What a memoir of a fun magical night for the ages! *I will model it Saturday for you in tribute to the Clemson parade!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Weaver of Surprising Endings

Dear Reader:

It never ceases to amaze me how far-sighted God’s vision is…while we think a terrible episode in our lives is the end of life as we know it …God knows it is just a stepping stone to the real beauty of life waiting for us…just over the horizon and beyond the realm of human understanding. We see only a piece of the final outcome and think it is final…not realizing it is an important piece for getting to our own unique destinations…but definitely not the ending.

My garden is looking pretty pitiful (these days) in some sections …fallen dead brown twigs where green shoots used to bloom….faded yellow leaves slowly turning dark and brittle. The garden is dormant and concentrating on getting the rest it needs down deep in the ground to return again in the spring….more beautiful than before.

We can’t see it now and it seems a stretch of the imagination as we wait for the early signs of spring to see which plants make it and which don’t…but there is always hidden surprises each spring that delights the  one who waits.

In this anecdotal lesson from Sheila Walsh (“A Beautiful Ending”-Devotionals Daily) we learn an important lesson about why we should be patient when our eyes only behold the “once was” or we fuss over supposedly destructive “enemies” in the garden…because we just never know what might appear from these barren and bleak images and situations. Are we really seeing an ending or a beginning, an enemy or a friend?

The emperor of China had a problem. Something was destroying his mulberry trees. So he did what any brilliant man does when faced with a problem he can’t handle: he turned it over to his wife!

When Empress Ce Ling Shee looked at the trees, she noticed a moth laying eggs on the mulberry leaves, eggs that of course hatched into caterpillars. After a few days, each caterpillar spun a thread that it wrapped itself in, forming a cocoon. The empress plucked one of the cocoons from the leaves and dropped it in hot water. Slowly, the delicate and beautiful thread began to unwind. It was a half mile long when the empress stretched it out and measured it! Then it occurred to her: perhaps this thread could be woven into cloth.

And that was the moment the silk trade was born. An empire of extraordinary beauty and wealth began with an emperor’s garden disaster!

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How lucky I am to live in the lowcountry of South Carolina where our holiday plants can thrive for much longer time periods than in other sections of our country. All my poinsettias are now on the porch and just loving the cooler weather… (and it is about to get colder actually.) It will have to drop pretty low and stay there before the weather affects the poinsettias protected on the porch and/or the pansies, however.

* I added pansies outside my office window for my enjoyment….and hopefully for the birds to enjoy also….while nibbling next door at the bird feeder.

One basket hangs near the glass bottles and brightens up that section of the front yard for the car drivers’ (riding by) pleasure.

“Little Big Red” is just as happy as he can be….he definitely inherited his father’s strong genes…new sprouts/buds are beginning to pop out all over and I am remembering to keep turning the planter around so it doesn’t get too top heavy leaning in one direction all the time.

So until tomorrow….“When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.” Billy Graham

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*A shout-out to my little niece Adelyn ! (Bekah’s daughter) You might remember she had a part in “School of Rock” a few months back and enjoyed the experience so much she tried out for the upcoming children’s musical at our Flowertown Theater here in Summerville…called Seussical. 

Seussical is a musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. It is based on the children’s stories of Dr. Seuss, with most of its plot being based on Horton Hears a Who! while incorporating many other stories. The musical’s name is a combination of “Seuss” and musical.

Ady got one of the leading roles portraying a character named Jo Jo…a smart child with a wild imagination. This will be her largest role to date…one that  requires singing and dancing- she was especially excited to get one of the key roles since there were sixty-something interested participants in the first set of try-outs.

We are very proud of you Ady and can hardly wait to see you ‘do your thing‘ girl! I will bring all your little cousins to come watch you perform! The show runs from April 5th- 13th! This production is for the young and young at heart.

*An important good luck charm has been added to “Surcie” (an guardian angel car gift from K.C.) …. And did I forget to tell you that “Surcie”  is what I decided to call my car. The car is silver and she could be called “The Silver Surcie” or on spunky days “The Sassy Surcie“… but, instead, I have found myself just calling her “Surcie.”

The origin of the word explains why I picked it….

“Surcie” is pronounced “Sir-See.”  It is a lowcountry (Charleston area) tradition of providing an unexpected gift or treat given just for the fun of it or to recognize someone for what they have done, or how they have affected your life.

Since my beautiful children surprised me with am unexpected “surcie” down-payment on my car….I have known that this car has been  special from the beginning…owned not only by me (and the bank)…but also, symbolically, by my wonderful family. An amazing Christmas surcie! Now that was a “boo-hoo” Boo surprise!!!! 🙂

 Honey called me yesterday morning to say that “Hope” has been her word of the year every year and every morning she has a plaque by her bed with this picture on it. When she saw “Fat Sammy” sitting atop the hope glass block with the verse from Emily Dickinson yesterday in the blog she just had to call and say how much that verse means to her personally also. It is a good one and Hope and Honey go together very well!

My pansies are loving the barrel and the cool sunshiny days we have had lately!

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Ripples of Kindness…

(Gratitude Habitat.com)

Dear Reader:

It never ceases to amaze me how one small act of kindness can continue long past its initial endeavor… simply through another act of kindness that  keeps the ripple going.

I shared with you, earlier, the thought that I got my new car exactly when God planned for me to get it….because if I had wheels to go places during my initial treatments it would have been far too easy, in today’s drive-thru opportunities to ‘hit’ drive-thru grocery, shopping, pharmacy, and fast -food establishments- all easily accessible to us.

Since this wasn’t an option for me and I relied on others bringing and picking up necessities  from the store and drugstore (while following doctor’s orders to stay put in the recliner with my foot elevated)…healing progressed faster than if I had been out running around.

On the positive side of life in now numerous drive-thru establishments…acts of kindness can ripple faster here than almost anywhere else.

In this short true anecdote from KindSpring…a woman shares her story about learning not to judge others by appearances.

 Yesterday, I let a very angry-looking young man pull in ahead of me at the coffee shop drive thru. I had decided that I would pay for the order of the person behind me when I was told that the “angry young-man” had paid for mine and said “Merry Christmas!” What a wonderful surprise and what a testament that appearances may be deceiving. This exercise in looking for, acknowledging, and sharing stories like these warms my heart so here’s some love to those of you reading these snippets of joy!

We are once again reminded how little it takes to change the world…in this case a cup of coffee. Of course the other powerful lesson in the story is how quickly we can judge our fellow man by appearances and be wrong.

After I read this story I started thinking about the number of times I unconsciously jump to conclusions about another person as I go through daily life…perhaps based on their looks or stature or negative personality or unkempt appearance …anything that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable around the person.

At the time it is happening I don’t even consciously realize that my thoughts are being swayed by a visual or invisible feeling about another….yet we can use both types of feelings to pass the “coffee on me today Merry Christmas” acts of kindness that reveal the true character of a person.

I started wondering what the record is for paying it forward at a fast-food chain drive-thru and found my answer. Amazing...how long the ripples of kindness can spread.

On Father’s Day, a regular customer at a McDonald’s in Scottsburg, Ind., started a 167-driver “pay it forward” chain of good deeds at the drive-thru window.

“She saw a dad in the van behind her … He had like four kids in the car,” McDonald’s cashier Hunter Hostetler said. “She was like, ‘I’m going to pay for the father behind me, and I want you to tell him happy Father’s Day.’”

Upon hearing of the woman’s good deed, the dad then paid for the next few cars behind him, and each car kept the process going, WDRB reported.

“I had people telling me, ‘No it’s going to stop here, it’s going to stop at 100, you’re not going to make it past,’” Hostetler said.

But, between 8:30 p.m. to midnight, every car paid for the ones behind it, Fox 8 reported.

“I saw the man in front of me talking to the cashier out in the rain, and I was wondering what was going on,” said guest 105 on how he came to know about the acts of kindness.

All total, 167 drivers “paid it forward” at the Scottsburg McDonald’s that night. Many customers even paid for meals that were more expensive than their own.

Only once did a customer threaten to break the streak, but the staff pooled $27 to keep it going, the restaurant’s manager said.

The chain of kindness only ended when the store closed for the night.

“I was proud to experience the Scottsburg community come together in this act of kindness under the Golden Arches,” said Frank Ward, owner of the Scottsburg McDonald’s, in a statement to ABC News.

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So until tomorrow…Be a blessing to someone else and make their day with one small act of kindness…you never know where the ripples will end.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

Rutledge and Lachlan are close in age…only about a year and a half apart and luckily for them this means they are close in other ways…the best kind of ways.

 

 

Yesterday while I was half-sitting, half-lying on the sofa watching ESPN and soaking up all the news about the game…the sun broke into the den and I realized that my ‘fat Sammy’ Vickie gave me for Christmas was sitting on top of a glass block with the words “HOPE” on it that Marcia gave me and immediately the words of Emily Dickinson came rushing back….

“Hope is the thing with feathers…that perches in my soul”

 

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OH, the Land of Possibilities Awaits…

Dear Reader:

Saturday when Eva Cate and I went to the Southern Living store…it was having its big January sale with everything half off. When I saw this linen dish towel (title photo)…I just had to have it. It sums up what I want 2019 to be…. a year filled with adventures and spontaneous opportunities to go and see new things and get new perspectives.

My hope is that this foot will finally completely heal soon …so I can go and do anything at a whim again…I miss spontaneity! Having to plan rides weeks and days ahead to the foot clinic got really old… though I will have to admit…the rides over to the clinic and back were much more fun with another person or persons along to talk and laugh with together. *Even the medical personnel keep asking where all my sons, neighbors, and friends are that used to come with me…I think they miss the extra company too. Independence comes with a high price…isolation.

Having finished the latest Louise Penny mystery….several people recommended the Mitford series (Jan Karon) and they couldn’t understand how  I had never read the series when it was so popular…starting  back in the nineties. (Simple answer….children and time or lack of…)

I couldn’t believe that within the second paragraph, on the first page, the rector made the same observation I did after researching the thoughts of the Apollo 8 astronauts as they gazed upon the “Blue Marble” the rest of us call home for the first time. They all realized spontaneously that home is defined by our surroundings…our world or home is different to everyone traveling through earth.

The rector (upon leaving the coffee-scented warmth of the Main street Grill) “often noted the minor miracle of passing through a door into a completely different world, with different smells and attractions. On this day the beautiful weather made this insight become a delight when he realized he was no longer walking..he was “ambling.” And what a difference there was between the two!”

*I took time to look up the word “amble” and it means: walk or move at a slow, relaxed pace for pleasure

So now that is my goal for 2019…I want my foot to get well enough… so I can not just walk along my given path…but I can amble along it! I want to be able to feel pleasure in moving slowly from one destination to another- to take time to really see the world around me on any given day…and absorb the miracle of it.

I also want to steal Father Tim’s daily prayer he had uttered every day for 12 years when the series starts: “Father, make me a blessing to someone today, through Christ our Lord, Amen” 

Isn’t that a wonderful thing to ask of God? To make a difference in someone else’s life…even if we don’t know it. I always pray this happened while I was teaching for over three decades and I have a few conclusive bits of evidence through notes and letters, later emails and texts, that it did….but it should not stop because one’s job or even vocation ends. Every day we should be consciously looking for that opportunity to make a difference in another’s life.

So until tomorrow…. (A Favorite Father Tim quote)“One of the things that makes a dead leaf fall to the ground is the bud of the new leaf that pushes it off the limb.”

What a beautiful thing to remember when we are sad over the loss of someone we love.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

If last night was any indication….the beautiful sunset went from pink to orange….hope it will still look orange today! (*P.S. It did)

I just discovered a fact…tigers usually work alone…when they are in a group, especially with a female and children…the group is called a “streak” or an “ambush”….from these pictures of the Dingle family preparing for the game (Walsh, Mollie, and children)…I think an ambush is coming…hopefully against some elephants :)!

12:30 P.M.

Well the orange sunset, the ‘streaking’ and ‘ambushing’ tigers against the elephants….became reality…no longer hope but the conclusion of hope….victory. Clemson won 44-16 over Alabama. There was no way any of us could have predicted the way the game went last night but oh, so thankful for the outcome!

I had planned to only stay at Donna and Sam’s until half-time…but there was no way I could leave….that game kept you on the edge of your seat the whole way and what a ride it was. I am sure it was our orange noses …that took Clemson over over the top once again.

Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney is interviewed while holding the trophy after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So happy! Whew! I will sleep good tonight! (*Actually I didn’t …I was too wired up to sleep!) I feel like good times have arrived after a long challenging period and it feels great!

Just one thing my children (who are all adults now)- a bit of un-asked for information..Remember this moment as the ‘Golden Age’ of Clemson football! Before you know it… one day you will be telling your grandchildren stories that start with “I remember when....”

 

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