November 7 — Free refills

Can you guess which one is me?

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lisa who was 18 years old. Like most 18-year-olds, she made a lot of choices. Some were good, some were not. One really, really good choice she made was the choice to be a part of Regina, a social club at Harding University.

Regina has been a part of Harding for a LONG time. Much longer than I have been around. The women who were a part of Regina when I was in school were my church. Seriously. They prayed with me, played with me, consoled me during grief, held me accountable to standards higher than I had for myself. Some of us were young and broke and newlyweds together. It was a special time with special friends.

Saturday, we had a reunion with Regina and our awesome brother club, Chi Sigs. It was absolutely wonderful. Three years ago, I became a faculty sponsor for Regina and getting to know this incarnation of the group has been wonderful. Seeing NOW Regina with THEN Regina was a taste of Heaven.

Here’s a picture of a lot of us, 20 years down the road.

There was a lot of this:

And some of this:

Now can you find me? We don’t look bad twenty years later, do we?

Thank you to all of you who helped make that Saturday such a special, memorable day. I was drinking in the joy and just couldn’t drink enough. I love you all.
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November 6 — Still drinking it in

After hearing Boo talk on Thursday, what could be better? How about seeing a lifelong friend and mentor be honored by having a building named for them?


Henry and Grace Farrar provided me with my second home.Their daughter Samantha has been my friend for so long thatI don’t remember meeting her. We’ve been through a lot together and she’s one of the people I know will be able to count on when crisis hits. The Farrars have been lifelong medical missionaries. I was thrilled when Harding announced that our health sciences building would be named in their honor.

Friday was also the day that my college friends started drifting in for our reunion that was scheduled for the next day. We got to go to an open choir rehearsal featuring some of my favorite students and a wonderful friend/director.


And we ended the day by going to Harding’s production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. I absolutely loved it! Big thumbs up to the Theater department for another beautiful show!

I now understand the phrase "drunk with happiness."

I’m still experiencing some sort hangover from Harding’s Homecoming this past weekend. I’ll tell you about my thankfulness while telling you about my weekend.

November 5

Jerry “Boo” Mitchell is one of my heroes. He was a student at Harding just before I was and I grew up reading his column in the university’s paper. After graduation, Boo became Jerry and got a respectable job as a reporter at the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger. During his time there, he has done tremendous job at tracking down information leading to arrests and convictions in several previously unsolved civil rights cases.

On Thursday, I was able to meet him and hear him tell his story. He is a humble, convicted man of faith. He’s had death threats against him and his family. His response? “We’re not to fear man; we’re to fear God. God is a God of justice.”

It was like meeting Atticus Finch.

My boys are fans now. Huge fans. He was so kind as he spoke to them, encouraging them to learn more about southern history and the civil rights movement.


If pop culture is more your speed, go find the movie, “Ghosts of Mississippi.” That is Jerry Mitchell’s story. The story of how he found evidence that led to the conviction of Medger Evers’ killer, Byron de la Beckwith. If you’ve read, “The Help,” Evers’ murder is mentioned in the book. It’s one of the catalysts that convinces the Help to tell their story.

I am thankful — so very, very thankful — for people who do the right thing no matter what. For people who take the hard road and live by conviction.

November 4

My beautiful Grandmother


My wonderful dad


My funny and talented brother

OK. Not that I’m not thankful for other people in my family, but today I’m thinking about the people in my family with November birthdays. There are others too, but these are the three who were the biggest part of my life. It was so much fun to get together for Thanksgiving and have a birthday party for everyone before the weekend was over. Good times, good times.

I don’t even know if I can find words to say what these people have meant to me over the years. They’re why I am who I am. Trying to pull out their influence on my life would be like trying to pull apart pieces of construction paper that had been glued together.

So I’m thankful for family and birthdays and November and time together and influence and faith and traditions and hope and eternal life and salvation and music and sense of humor and oh-so-many things that I think of when I think of these people.

Grandmother — Mildred Christmas
Daddy — Eugene Underwood
Brother — Alan Underwood

Part of me yet not me.

I am thankful.

November 3

I love the seasons of the year and am so thankful that I live in a place where I get to experience a change of seasons. Arkansas changes seasons like I get up in the morning. It starts, then retreats; two steps forward, one step back. In October and November, a week of beautiful, crisp cool air can easily be followed by a week of 80+ degrees that feels like summer again.

Even with our messy transitions, I am still very thankful that my little neck of the woods has all four seasons: definite winter, definite spring, definite summer (VERY definite summer), and definite fall.

I hope I never forget the first year we moved back to NE Arkansas after our time down south. I was driving home one day, rounded a curve in the road, and BOOM! My eyes were flooded with the multitude of color of the trees on the hills. I’d forgotten how beautiful it was. SE Arkansas is mostly pine trees and other evergreens, so even if the weather changes, the visual impact is very different.

I love the other seasons too, but the transition from the heat of summer to the cool of fall is my favorite. The longer nights and lack of sunshine are a bit of a challenge, but the respite from the heat? Amazing.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that it’s about fellowship and gratitude and not about buying presents for people. Yes, I fully realize that Christmas isn’t about the presents, but in our culture it’s very hard to not get caught up in the busyness and the gift-giving.

So I love Thanksgiving. It’s a break in the semester. It’s one of the few times I have days at home by myself to get things done. I get to cook and spend time with my family.
We get an early start with Thanksgiving. Way back when the dinosaurs ruled the earth, I was in this club called Regina at Harding University. Regina has a brother club, Chi Sigs, and every year we have Thanksgiving dinner together on the last Sunday of classes before the Thanksgiving break. Since I’m a sponsor now, we still get to go and spend wonderful time with some of my favorite people in the world.
Later, we’ll do the family thing. My grandmother loved Thanksgiving too. Every year, we would take turns saying what we were thankful for and every year we would sing The Doxology together. She would often have someone read Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation for a national day of Thanksgiving.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

I really do love Thanksgiving, but not just the holiday.
The older I get, the more important the concept of thanksgiving means to me. Let’s face it: life’s hard. I’m way too old to think that I can learn something or do something that will create some picture perfect outcome in life. We live in a sinful, fallen, out-of-whack world and it will always be that way. Being present enough to be thankful for the little things is important; without gratitude for the blessings that we have, it’s too easy to be overcome by the things that go wrong. If the people who lived through the Civil War could stop and be thankful, so can I.
So this month, I’m posting about Thanksgiving. Every day.
November 1: I’m thankful for friends. Real friends. Friends who share my burdens and trust me with theirs. Friends who think deeply and care about our church, our campus, and our culture. Friends who not only help me do what’s right, but who help me be honest about it when I don’t. I have wonderful friends who are nothing short of a gift from God.
November 2: I’m thankful for the women who fought long and hard to secure the right for women to vote in our country. Please do not take this privilege for granted. People died so you could have a say in how our country is ruled. Yes, God is sovereign and no matter who wins any election, he will rule the lives of those who love him, but please go and vote today. And if you haven’t seen it, go watch Iron Jawed Angels.

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