Joan Horner – A life well lived

On Monday I heard the sad news of the passing of Joan Horner. I lost a friend. The Texas Rangers lost one of their biggest fans. Thousands of women around the world lost a role model and mentor. Andy Horner lost his sweetheart of sixty-four years. She will be missed so much by her loving family and friends.

Perhaps you don’t know who Joan Horner is. Joan and husband Andy started a little direct sales company called Premier Designs Jewelry a quarter century ago. That little venture now generates sales of 350 million dollars a year. But that is not what impressed me about Premier Designs. Lots of companies generate profits and hire people. Andy and Joan wanted to make a difference with their company. They have.

Few companies have had a more concentrated plan to share their financial blessings than Premier Designs. Through the Horner-Premier Foundation the company has supported ministries and missionaries in 45 countries around the world. Locally, to help in the ongoing battle against breast cancer, Premier Designs created its Cure pin in 2004. Since then, the company has donated profits from sale of the Cure pin to fund the fight against breast cancer. In 2007, the company created the Patriotic bracelet and donated all the profits to Operation Homefront, a charitable organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our troops and the families of fallen soldiers. The impact of this philosophy of giving back has had an amazing and eternal impact.

Every summer thousands of associates travel to annual meetings in Ft.Worth to be motivated, inspired and touched by Joan and Andy. I have had the privilege of writing many of the scripts and skits for the annual rallies. Many in the front office kidded me that it was only because of Joan that I was retained year after year. At least I think they were kidding. I had a real connection with Joan. We both loved baseball and our families and people and Jesus. We tried real hard to keep the correct order. Joan could talk baseball with the best of them. I remember staffers waiting impatiently for us to get going on a script idea while Joan and I discussed the current state of the Texas Ranger’s roster. I am so happy that Joan got to see her beloved Rangers finally make a World Series this fall.

Today I heard a Christmas song from Michael W. Smith. A lyrical phrase struck me in an entirely different way as I remembered the life of Joan Horner. The intent of the lyric is to express that the happiest Christmas is when everyone gets together as family and friends. And that is true. But I listened to this phrase of the song and thought that maybe there is another meaning that my friend Joan is discovering today.

Oh the happiest Christmas,
Is a homecoming Christmas.

Joan Horner is experiencing a homecoming Christmas that we can only imagine. Jesus talked about a homecoming and He was not talking about His upcoming birthday celebration. He talked about the big one. I am scheduled to join in that Homecoming someday and I am happy about that. I am looking forward to it because of a promise that I believe.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  (John 14, NLT)

I am not anxious to leave this earth but I do look forward to that homecoming someday. Why? It is about relationships. Joan understood that and made it part of her philosophy.

“Our purpose at Premier Designs is to influence peoples lives, not just their pocketbooks, and to build relationships. People are always more important than profits.”

Joan Horner modeled that well. Her life was a life well lived. When you know a life was well lived you feel sadness but no regret that opportunities were lost. A life well lived shows the rest of us what matters. And clearly what matters is not just accomplishment or gain. A life well lived is invested in faith, family and friends. A life well lived values others and changes them. A life well lived serves others and affirms them.

Joan Horner made a very real difference with a life well lived. She was a living example of Paul’s words to Timothy.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness… (2 Timothy 4, NLT) 

All of us receive that crown because of God’s grace. Some do a lot better job than others of demonstrating that grace. Joan was one of those.

Note: You can continue Joan’s legacy of giving by donating to the Horner-Premier Foundation in lieu of flowers. Send your donation to the Horner-Premier Foundation, 1551 Corporate Drive, Irving, TX, 75038.