Day 23: Altogether Now

Our baby girl has graduated from college and still we made the decision to invest in season football tickets, Clemson fans that we are. We love the game, Tim and I do, the kind of fans who sit through The Entire Thing even when the spread of the score and the oppressive heat and the distance we have to travel to get back home make it ridiculous to even consider carrying on sitting there. Yes, we are fans who hang through every scoreboard minute until the players shake hands, the field is swamped with running, star-struck kids and the alma mater

Where The Blue Ridge Yawns Its Greatness, Where the Tigers Play

has been sung.

We do love Clemson football.

So it was with particular excitement that we prepared for Game 1 of Season 2015. Eliza, our graduate, would be coming to the game with us, as would Jenna and Jayme, daughters of our dear friends and tailgate buddies, the Rojeks. The game would be followed by a fabulous holiday weekend at a cabin in the mountains of Highlands, North Carolina–a once in a lifetime opportunity, we realized, spending this time all of us together before our worlds divide, our girls starting their separate grown-up lives.

What a joyful time we had, beginning with the tailgate itself. The forecast for rain manifested in one post-game clap of thunder and one short downpour that found us huddled up (selfie-style) under our big tent.


Look! The Maibergers are here, too!
Look! The Maibergers are here, too!


Then we headed for the mountains and two very full days that did not disappoint. We drank coffee and watched the sunrise, we drank wine and watched the sunset, and by the time the weekend was over we’d solved nearly every world problem. It was glorious!

But most of all, it was a time for us to gather, families who love each other deeply, friends who have experienced–together–the unfathomably quick passage of time as we watched our children grow from sweet little girls into smart, beautiful, independent women.

How did this happen, is the question we asked each other over and over. And then we raised a glass and toasted them all, Jayme, Jenna and Eliza, joy and pride on our lips, and in our hearts, gratitude, deep and profound.


Jay, Jayme, Cathy, Jenna, Eliza, Julie, Tim 9.6.15 Highlands, North Carolina


30 Days Of Fun III

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For Eliza, On the Day of Her Final Finals

My sweet girl,

Today you take the final exam of your college career–your final finals as we have been calling them. While that in itself is reason to rejoice (!), I know there are a thousand other emotions moving inside you, like ocean swells that become waves that crash into each other in an approaching storm. It’s a funny thing to be the Mom of a daughter facing these confusing and conflicting feelings. I have been in the same place, on the same campus, facing the same things. I know your heart like I know my own: half sad and hopeless, half ready to move on. Fearful, yes, but nevertheless feeling that tug toward what’s next.

It’s just life, this tug of what’s next. It’s how God keeps us moving along our journey. That’s something you know but somehow it is of little comfort when emotions run so wild. Right?

Let me put your mind at ease on the two thoughts that I expect most weigh you down.

1. You are ready.

There is no experience like college (particularly at Clemson, which is ideal in this way) and for many of us, it will always be a pinnacle time in life. This is a good thing! It happens because it’s the perfect match up of want and need. College is an immersion in a life buffet–you only need fill your plate with the things that interest you and that move you along on your big life journey. Classes, clubs, relationships, parties, travel, lectures, sports, activities–a little of this, a little of that–and each one plays a part in getting you ready for the big world waiting for you out here. It’s all rather remarkable, I think.

But then years pass and you begin to get your fill. The food still looks good, but somehow you’re not so hungry anymore.

It’s God’s way of telling you it’s time to make a move. He knows because He’s provided everything you need to be ready for the next chapter. You are more mature, more grounded, more confident. You’re better at making your own decisions. You have a better sense of who you are. (Okay, so maybe not completely, but you definitely have a better sense of who you are not and that is just as important.) You know how to navigate, how to get from here to there, how to read the proverbial map and ask the right questions and work through problems that arise along the way. You know how to make the difficult calls, have the tough conversations, face the inevitable consequences. You’re finding out what drains you, and also, what brings you powerful energy and great, giddy joy.

You’ve had four years of practice on a demanding college campus. But the walls are closing in. You’re ready for a bigger stage.

2. You get to take the people that matter to you with you when you go.

It’s so true.

You’ve developed relationships with some remarkable people who’ve been an important part of your growth in college. These connections won’t just sever and die when you leave campus.  Those who matter to you will be an important part of your future, as well.

Chief among these, of course, are your friends. Guys and girls with whom you’ve spent time, who’ve influenced the person you’ve become. And most particularly the deep dear friendships of your tightest circle. How lucky you are to be surrounded by such strong, intelligent, beautiful women. How lucky they are to have you! As you hug goodbye to begin new chapters in different cities, rest assured in the knowledge these friendships will only deepen as you all move on. Life has a funny way of making sure this happens–it will challenge you in ways that demand you reach out and hold on to each other for support. I know from my own beautiful experiences–you will be there for each other in ways you can’t even imagine. They are your circle for life, these women, and you will lean on each other as things change over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years and more. How you will need each other for strength, for guidance, for honesty. For keeping it all in check. And for laughter and fun. For the rest of your lives, when you girls are together the laughter will come as easily as it does today. With no work, with no effort, the laughter will always come.

There’s so much grace in that, I think.

Anyway, my sweet girl. There you are on that threshold. In front of you is a big, beautiful world filled with so much. I can’t wait to see you gobble it all up.

You are ready. It’s time.

Love, love, love,



the girls
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Day 6: When Joy is Bittersweet

It’s so bittersweet, this having a daughter who is suddenly a 22-year-old woman living her own big life. I can’t for all the world figure out where the years have gone, how it can be that the little girl who loved to play school and ride bikes and twirl her fingers in my hair is all at once a very independent college senior who makes both her own money and her own decisions. I now realize some things (is what I’m meaning to say) about the fact that when children are young–when they are babies and toddlers and teenagers–it is impossible, somehow, to see beyond those years. Even when you appreciate that time for its sweet, chaotic, fleeting nature–God has some reason for keeping a vision of your children as grown-ups, separate and complete apart from you, at bay.

Still, the time goes so fast, in the blink of an eye. Oh, yes.

But then there is so much to relish in their blossoming. My sweet Eliza has grown into a woman I love, of course. But I also have tremendous respect for the person she is, for the way she moves about her world. And I have to say for every ounce of remorse I have at the rapid passing of the years, there is double joy in watching and sharing her gorgeous life.

A wonderful example is the group of friends to whom she is devoted. She couldn’t ask for a more loving and generous circle. And neither can I, for with open hearts and joyful enthusiasm, they have pulled me (and the other Moms) right on into the fold. On a regular basis I get sweet, thoughtful messages from one or two or three of them, and it makes my heart swell.

And so on this Day 6 of Joy, I share with you a little something that came my way last night via Facebook.


housemates Michelle, Eliza and Hanna


How happy I am that even when she is far away from me, my little girl is surrounded by love.


PS: I can’t resist adding this photo of the entire, lovely group, taken just after they received their Clemson rings. In the center is Clemson’s beloved president, James P. Clements.

the girls and President Clements
Caroline, Jillian, Michelle, Sarah, President Clements, Eliza, Jessie Rose, Elliott and Hanna

30 Days of Joy


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joie de vivre

The month of February was a difficult one, but it was also filled with such a wash of blessings I am still overflowing.

This was one of the first: a sweet bouquet of pink tulips delivered by my daughter, sent to me from the extraordinary group of friends who now surround her at Clemson. It was a move she made not so long ago, this shifting of Eliza’s world from home to university, and one that brought me (unexpectedly) to my knees as I fretted over the immense change taking place in both our lives. As we hugged goodbye on the sidewalk in front of that freshman dorm 18 months ago, I looked her in the eyes and promised hard You are going to be so happy here.

And here she is now, 18 months later, fully ensconced in college life. Central to her joy is this group of smart, funny, beautiful girls who bring sparkle and love and loyalty to her world.

They are also extremely thoughtful, these daughters of mothers who have taught them well.

I grateful I am. How pleased my own Mother would be.


Heaven Smiles Over Clemson

It had been a glorious day, perfect for football, dear friends, hugs from an endless parade of Eliza’s precious college friends. We were walking back from a visit to Old Mr. Knickerbocker’s (a little impromptu Christmas shopping—promises the new sweatshirt will NOT be worn early) when I looked right to see this.

over Tillman Hall

It stopped me in my tracks. So much that I love converged in that moment—tradition, connection, legacy, friendship—my prayer of gratitude painted before me, there in that Clemson sky. How blessed I have been in my life. How much I owe to this remarkable university.