Thanksgiving

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Debra Nesbitt believes spending time with family is important. She lives with her husband, Alan, her three kids, and the residents of Keller Dorm. Nesbitt is currently in her 16th year as a residence life coordinator of Keller.

“My kids really like being dorm kids,” she says. “My two older children interacted more with the students when they were younger, but my youngest still loves to be out in the lobby meeting as many people as possible. We all love to have such a huge family.”

Nesbitt actually grew up in the dorm as the daughter of a dorm dad. She loved helping her dad close down the dorm for breaks, and she says it felt like home to come back and do the job herself.

“My favorite part about being a dorm mom is being able to stay in the lives of the students and to give them a home away from home — a place where they feel connected and comfortable,” she says. “I love building the relationship and getting to know each person. It’s such a blessing to have such a fun job!”

Whether it’s playing games, eating a meal, or just having conversations about life, Nesbitt says that her family tries to find any moment they can to spend time together.

“It doesn’t really matter what we are doing — just spending the time together is where we get the time to talk and stay involved in each others lives,” she says. “I love walking through this life with these guys. God was so gracious to give us each other to walk with. They are always so supportive, encouraging and a safe place where we hold each other accountable. I want more than anything to be with them all in heaven.”

Hannah Owens, director of news services

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“I love cooking,” Erin Cox (’99) said. “I love most everything about it — the menu planning, the grocery shopping and especially the eating. But I don’t love cleaning the dishes.”

For Cox, cooking is a creative outlet and a great way for her to use her talents to provide for her family. She remembers helping out in the kitchen at a very young age, standing on a step stool to help her great-grandmother make homemade rolls.

“Every summer we would sit at her small table and snap huge piles of fresh green beans so we could can them, and we would line her shelves with jar after jar of the beans, homemade jellies and tomato relish,” she said. “Now that I have my own children, I love that I am passing on those recipes and building memories with them.”

After more than 30 years of practice, Cox feels very comfortable in the kitchen but says she still likes to try new recipes and food from a variety of cultures and countries. Every Friday, the Cox family has “Foreign Food Friday” where her two kids get to choose a country, and Cox makes a type of food that represents that country.

“We as a family learn about the culture and maybe even a few foreign words, too,” Cox said. “The kids each have a blank passport and a sticker book of foreign flags, and they rate the food with their own star system. We’ve discovered some new family favorites, and we’ve had the occasional bust, too. But the benefits are that I get to cook all sorts of fun things not readily available in small-town Searcy, and my kids expand their tastes and learn a bit too. It’s my favorite night of the week!”

Cox believes that sharing a meal is a bonding experience, and she says her family loves to open their home to guests and college students to share a meal and get to know people on a deeper level.

“Some of my favorite times since we have lived in Searcy have been sitting around our kitchen table, sharing a meal and getting to know students who come from all different backgrounds and different parts of the world,” she said. “My husband, Tim, and I have differing sets of spiritual gifts, but we are both committed to developing and using the gift of hospitality.”

At Thanksgiving, Cox has a list of foods she loves to both make and eat, including apple-cider brined turkey, caramel sweet potatoes, and cornbread dressing.

“I think my favorite Thanksgiving dessert I’ve made is a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and salted caramel sauce, which you could poor on an old boot and it would be good!”

-Hannah Owens, news director

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Photo by Grant Schol

Photo by Grant Schol

Every day, I’m always working to make better what I did previously. I’m constantly trying to build on what I’ve already done. And rightfully so — what else would life be if we don’t strive to make it something incredible? I guess you could call me a busy person. Whether it is my professional aspirations, personal relationships or day-to-day errands, my infinitely long to-do list never becomes a “done” list, and through all of my toil, worrying and lack of sleep, I never seem to find rest. But fall always seems to put life back into perspective for me.

I look up at the trees, some of which are three times older than my feeble 23 years, and observe how they go about their day-to-day life. I’ve discovered I have much more in common with them than I ever thought I would. Though they may not “think” about what they have to get done like I do, they still have tasks that must be completed before year-end and are always busy preparing for the next season. In the same way, just as I am sent here to live on Earth to be a living sacrifice to God, so are the trees. They live their lives in perfect harmony with their Creator. Absolutely everything they need is provided for them, and in return, they do exactly what God intended them to do: move from season to season, adapting to the changing weather. Their lives are a visual reminder of the redemption story for all of us, constantly cycling from one season to another but ultimately showing that though the leaves fall, new life springs from death. They remind me that I am not in control, everything I need is provided for me, and the worries of life are tiny in relation to the One who created it all.

Fall is my favorite season because it reminds me that all the “stuff” I have to get done is just that — it’s stuff, and it can wait. Fall is my favorite season because it reminds me that life is fleeting, and the beautiful colors won’t always be around to bring joy to my life. And fall is my favorite season because it reminds me of the hope I have in knowing that with every fall, a spring is right around the corner.

Grant Schol, ’15

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In his first semester of college, Hunter Jackson is learning about psychology, the New Testament, and what it means to have great relationships with faculty members. A psychology major and Bible and missions minor, Jackson is currently in Visiting Missionary Alan Howell’s New Testament survey class.

“He shares a different aspect on teaching. He’s able to share a lot of what he’s experienced — not just in Mozambique but around the world — and that’s something that I really like because I’m looking to go into missions,” Jackson said.

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Jackson, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, took a few Bible as literature classes at the public high school he attended, and he came into this class thinking that he knew a lot.

“Every day, what we talk about is something I didn’t know,” he said. “He’s an awesome teacher. We can just openly discuss anything we want to, and I didn’t have that in high school.”

Earlier in the semester, Jackson’s older brother, Adam, was diagnosed with cancer. Jackson said that he is encouraged by the amount of care his professors have shown to him since he found out.

“Pretty much every day, my Bible professor or my psych professor will ask me about how he’s doing,” Jackson said. “They just really do care — not just about you but about everything going on in your life. It’s almost like all of your professor are close friends, and they’re there to talk to you whenever you need them. That’s just so awesome.”

-Hannah Owens, news director

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Sophomore Molly White [right] spends dome quality time with her friends before the Thanksgiving break.

Sophomore Molly White [right] spends some quality time with her friends before the Thanksgiving break.

“I’m thankful for my friends because I could be having the best day or the worst day, and those are the people I go and talk to,” said sophomore Molly White.

A business management major from Franklin, Tennessee, White made several friendships with Harding students before she even started school here. After attending Honor Symposium the summer before her senior year of high school, she stayed in touch with those new friends throughout the year before she started school in August 2014.

“I’m thankful for community and a crowd of witnesses that keeps me on track,” she said. “They have the intention to improve my life and bring joy wherever they go.”

White joined women’s social club Pi Theta Phi in the first semester of her freshman year, and she participated in Spring Sing the following spring. She said both experiences enabled her to build many lifelong friendships.

“One of the things I like most about PTP is that I know that if anything was wrong or if I was having a bad day, I could go to any one of those girls and talk to them,” she said. “It’s a constant friend. There’s always going to be someone there to smile at me and ask me how my day is going, and that’s comforting.”

White says that having friends in the Harding community allows her more opportunities to make meaningful connections.

“There’s something about the Harding community where you become good friends with the person you sit next to in class, then you might see them at church, and then you might go to the same Bible study,” she said. “There are different outlets for you to become friends with people, and they’re outlets that bring you closer to God.”

-Hannah Owens, news director

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Systems Librarian Brenda Breezeel checks oil for a student.

Systems Librarian Brenda Breezeel checks oil for a student.

I usually check chapel announcements on Pipeline daily to know what is happening on campus. There were only four today, but they blessed me because of the messages they conveyed. They follow:

  • Students, take your cars to the GAC parking lot today or tomorrow (weather permitting) between 3 and 6 p.m. where faculty and staff will help you check tires, oil and other basics before you drive home for Thanksgiving break.
  • The Red Cross blood drive will continue through Thursday. The donor coaches will be parked in the Benson parking lot and will be open from 1-7 p.m.
  • Chi Kappa Rho, Phi Kappa Delta and GATA invite all who are interested in Spring Sing to attend an interest meeting today in McInteer 150 from 4-5:30 p.m.
  • The SA invites you to a prayer service, which will focus on those suffering after the Paris attack. Join them at 11 p.m. tonight in the McInteer Rotunda.

It is great to know that faculty and staff at the University where I work care enough about students to help them get their vehicles ready for their trips home for the upcoming holiday. As a Red Cross blood donor as a student, it is good to see this tradition of helping others continues today. Spring Sing plans are beginning where students will give their winnings to help organizations they believe in. And people suffering elsewhere are not forgotten with a prayer service for Paris.

Sometimes with all the bad in this world we read about daily, it’s nice to be reminded, even through chapel announcements, our University is still serving, helping, giving and praying.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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1939 Burning of the Morgage

The campus is empty this Thanksgiving Day as students have a full week off to celebrate the holiday.

Seventy-five years ago, the campus was active on Thanksgiving Day as Lectureship was held during that week. A feast was prepared on campus with barbecue pits full of beef and pork ready for faculty, students and guests to enjoy.

Thanksgiving Day 1939 was going to prove to be one for the history books as Dr. George S. Benson, president for just three years, had met his goal of setting the campus debt free, which he announced to a crowded auditorium.

Soon the crowd gathered around a large bonfire on the front lawn lit by Benson where J.N. Armstrong, Harding’s first president, threw the cancelled mortgage into the flames. The “Alma Mater” was joyfully sung, and, according to the 1940 Petit Jean, the Alumni Association presented a gift of $5,000 in insurance policies to Benson to begin an endowment.

The burning of the mortgage that Thanksgiving Day 75 years ago allowed Harding to go forward debt free and become the University we know and love today.

The staff of Harding magazine is thankful for these men and women who went before us paving the way for the blessings we enjoy today. We wish you a blessed Thanksgiving as we give thanks to God for his rich provisions.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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Many people have said that you can find a Harding connection almost anywhere. For President Bruce McLarty, those bonds are common everywhere he goes.

“I love to wear Harding gear because I know that if I see somebody that has Harding gear on, I’ll walk up to them, and people will walk up to me like that,” McLarty said. “It has been in Europe or in South America that I connect with a Harding person. All you have in common is that you went to Harding, and yet there is a level of understanding that you begin with that’s huge.”

The moment that the impact of Harding as a connected family really clicked with him was when he and Ann were living in Cookeville, Tennessee. McLarty was in the library of the church where he preached looking for something when a man walked in who also had graduated from Harding.

“It was like we had grown up in the same family because we shared Harding in common,” he said. “We had a few overlapping friends, but that wasn’t the bond. The bond was that we were from Harding. I was stunned by the depth of the relationship with someone I did not even know at Harding. And yet, it was very much, ‘We are Harding family.’”

Hannah Beall Owens, director of news services

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“Food is really a form of art,” said Liz Howell, assistant to the president for parent and alumni relations.

From participating in her Supper Club to planning and cooking for parties for others, Howell says that food is definitely something for which she is thankful. For the past 25 years, she has met regularly with a group of friends to cook and bond over their mutual love for food.

“It can be ultimate gourmet or completely casual — the food is always fabulous,” Howell said. “But it’s the relationships and friendships that occur over the food that are special.”

Howell says she loves to cook because it is relaxing. As the oldest of five children, she was often the one cooking dinner for the family. During Thanksgiving, Howell says the dressing is a big part of her family’s celebration, and her granny was the person who always made it. Over the years, the responsibility of cooking the dressing has been passed down to her mother and now to her, including her granny’s exact recipe and the only pan in which the dressing has ever been made.

“The real key to this recipe is the cornbread. We’re all kind of food critics of the dressing,” she said. “For us, it’s the ultimate comfort food, and it takes us back to our childhood.”

To make her granny’s famous dressing, Howell shares the recipe below:

Cornbread

(The secret ingredient)

  • 2 c. of cornmeal
  • 1 c. of all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. of salt
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  • 1 tsp. of baking powder
  • 2 c. or more of buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. of vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour vegetable oil in an iron skillet or 9 x13 baking dish and place in oven as you mix all the dry ingredients. Add buttermilk. If your batter is too thick, add more buttermilk. Pour batter into the hot vegetable oil and bake until golden brown. Allow cornbread to cool.

Dressing

  • 3 stalks of celery (optional)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 c. butter or oil
  • 1 chicken or 4 bone-in breasts
  • 4 or 5 qt. of water
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 -4 slices of bread
  • Sage, salt and pepper to taste

Chop celery and onion. Sauté in saucepan until soft. Cook one chicken in four or five quarts of water. Cover and cook until tender. Add salt to taste. Remove chicken, debone and chop into bite size pieces. Let broth cool. Crumble cornbread into large pan. Add eggs and work in three to four slices of bread to the mixture. Add sautéed onion and celery to cornbread. Add sage, salt and pepper to taste. Begin adding broth to cornbread and stir. You want the bread all covered and very moist. Add chicken. Keep adding broth until mixture is very soupy. Bake at 425 degrees until golden brown.

Gravy

  • 1/4 c. of butter
  • 1/2 c. of flour
  • Chicken broth

Melt butter in a skillet. Gradually add flour. Don’t let it brown, then slowly add chicken broth until gravy thickens. Stir with a fork. You may add chicken or boiled eggs to the gravy. Serve over dressing.

Hannah Beall Owens, director of news services

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Emily Sanders of Colorado Springs, Colorado, graduated from Harding in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Throughout her undergraduate career, Sanders said she had a number of memorable experiences in the classroom and learning from University faculty.

Sanders took French for three years under Dr. Robert McCready, associate professor. Though the class was difficult at times, Sanders said McCready went out of his way to help his students understand the material.

“He was very engaging in class and always encouraged students to go beyond what they felt comfortable with in learning French — which you have to do to really master a new language,” she said. “I learned that hard is not always bad! I just always appreciated his teaching style and the fact that he seemed to care very much about his students and their success.”

Another class Sanders remembers is Associate Professor of English Larry Hunt’s history of language class, which Sanders admitted she initially had doubts about.

“I don’t really know how he did it, but Dr. Hunt made that class so entertaining, Sanders said. “He had the best laugh and would crack us up every time in class with funny stories or videos about the history of language. It turned out to be one of the most fascinating classes I took.”

In a Bible class with Dr. Scott Adair, associate professor, Sanders remembers many moments when he made her think about the Bible and her own faith from a new perspective. She said she’ll never forget the day he brought in a steel animal trap with cloth covering the teeth to illustrate faith in God.

“He told us it wouldn’t hurt if someone stuck his or her arm into the trap and it snapped; he had done it before,” she said. “Would we act on faith that what he said was true? There were no volunteers. He certainly made his point though.”

Looking back on her experience in school, Sanders says she is thankful for the teachers in her life and the influence they have had on her future.

“I’m very thankful to have had teachers who were not only gifted in their area of study but were also gifted in communicating to, connecting with, and inspiring their students,” she said. “You don’t always get both, so it’s special.”

Hannah Beall Owens, director of news services

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