Yesterday I found myself in Waco, Texas for a meeting at the Methodist Home. I’ve had the good fortune of knowing the President of Methodist Home and the Vice President for Programs and Services for Methodist Homes for decades. Of course, they haven’t always been in the roles they now serve and they haven’t always worked at Methodist Home, but they have always served in leadership roles in serving children and families from hard places.
Yesterday, Methodist Home hosted a special called meeting for the Texas Coalition of Homes for Children. One of the Legislative priorities for this year has to do with tweaking child welfare services. Some of those tweaks could have a direct relationship on how we do business. Consequently, the interest of our organization is high and the opportunity for input with lawmakers is limited. Consequently, we had much to discuss.
One of the issues for discussion wasn’t a slam-dunk. Consequently, viewpoints differed. I had one perspective and my two friends from Methodist Home had another. Did I find that bothersome? “Not at all” is a truthful answer. I don’t always get it right. I could be wrong. I am not ready to concede and change my opinion. I’m content with a wait-and-see approach and regardless of how the issues plays out, it will have no impact on the friendship and level of respect I have for my two colleagues. What’s true for me is also true for them.
Friendship is a gift that too few people discover. Nothing has more value than relationships that support, encourage and challenge our thinking. At the end of the day perceived differences doesn’t mean that we end up at a different place. Our friendship has endured the test of time and the personal benefits I’ve reaped are innumerable.
Consequently, I am continually grateful for their friendship. They are more than colleagues or mentors. Their friendship is personal as well as professional. There aren’t any limits or boundaries of the things we can discuss and explore.
Of course, I remind both of my friends from Waco often that if it wasn’t for the “Fixer-Upper” on HGTV, Waco, America wouldn’t even be on the map. After all, Waco has had Methodist Home for Children and Baylor University for over a century, and the two together haven’t orchestrated “all eyes on Waco” the way Chip and Joanna Gaines have drawn attention to Magnolia Farms, the Magnolia Market at the Silos and the Magnolia Home Furniture Collection.
When I was in Florida earlier this week, my sister-in-law had one last thing she wanted hung in their kitchen. Her husband opted to do the honors. It was a large metal wall plague from none other than the Magnolia Market. She wanted the plague hung as a subtle reminder: “Today is a good day for a good day”. Strategically it was placed at the entranceway to their kitchen. You couldn’t get to the espresso coffee machine without first seeing the sign. What a great way to begin one’s day!
The psalmist expressed it this way: “This is the day that the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24)
Texas Monthly recently dedicated a cover story to the Fixer-Upper. It was the October 2016 publication entitled: “Are You Ready To Meet Your Fixer Uppers?”. As an introduction to the article, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, writes:
“I was eating breakfast in a restaurant in Waco, when I got to talking to my waiter, Jerry. Jerry had just moved to town with his husband, and on my third morning in the city, he asked me what I thought of the place. I told him it seemed nice—yes, that it’s surprisingly nice on the one hand and a little desolate on the other. Yes, Jerry said, that’s what he thinks too. He’s from Orlando, and on the first day of this year he and his husband, tired of the crowds and traffic—so many tourists he practically couldn’t leave his house—got into their car and drove to Waco for good. He had been worried it would be too Christian, as he put it, but the Christians are nice…
“I asked Jerry how he came to choose Waco, and he told me that back when he was virtually forced under house arrest because of the tourists, he’d watch the home-renovation show Fixer Upper on HGTV. “I would look at the idyllic life on Fixer Upper and I saw the cost of living and thought I’d try to see if it was really like that,” he said. “And it is.”
“Later that day, I spent some time with Chip and Joanna Gaines, the hosts of Fixer Upper and the people who have repainted the map to include Waco as a legitimate tourist destination… I told them about Jerry. ‘Well, that’s just dreamy,’ Joanna said. She sent someone to get a canvas bag full of Fixer Upper swag and asked if I would bring it back to my hotel, to Jerry. I told her I would”.
When “Christians are nice”, it makes a noticeable difference. Perhaps never are we more like Christ when we provide the gift of friendship and kindness. Like I said earlier: “Nothing has more value than relationships that support, encourage and challenge our thinking. At the end of the day perceived differences doesn’t mean that we end up at a different place”.
“Today is a good day for a good day.” Why not focus on strengths we share with others rather than the differences that drive us apart? A nation divided cannot stand. The love of Christ has the ability to make all men brothers. That best happens when Christians are nice.
All My Best!