President Mike and Lisa Williams invited everyone to join them for a time of coffee and inspired conversations following the inauguration celebration Sept. 16. We sat down with the family to learn how they have fostered Christ-centered connection around their own table.
What do you enjoy doing together?
Cade: On Saturdays we will walk to the farmers market from our apartment in the morning, and we’ll cross their [Mike and Lisa’s] house, buy our groceries, and go to Wild Sweet Williams and Midnight Oil. We basically just do this big lap where we are walking and eating, visiting, buying our groceries, and it’s an easy time to share about the week.
Lisa: We also like fine dining. Cade likes to cook, and we watch cooking shows together, and I think that inspired him to master techniques of cooking. When we go out to eat, it’s fun to go to a really nice restaurant together, critique the menu a little bit and look at the new flavor profiles. Movies have always been a part of our home as well. We’ve had a lot of movie marathons, especially when the boys were younger.
Quen: I’d say one of my favorite movies is “Black Panther.”
Describe a special family memory.
Lisa: Cade and Cailin have been married for a year now, and so to start at that point, moving forward, there hasn’t been a lot of time together. I think it was a good memory for us to watch them go through their engagement, and the rehearsal dinner night was fun. We had a good time and knew that was going to be a special memory for them. It was nice to hear Quen give the toast that night. That, to me, was very special, and I loved that. And the fireworks afterward were a pinnacle for me.
Cailin: Each member of the family participated too. Quen did a wonderful job with the toast at the rehearsal dinner, and then you two [Mike and Lisa] got to come up during the ceremony and pray over us. It was a sweet, sweet memory.
Mike: Maybe it’s because of where we live now, I think about it every day because I walk by it … but a special moment for us was when Cade and Quen were both baptized in the fountain in front of the Benson. I mean obviously, those are signature moments in our lives that we think about as far as our family being committed to Christ.
What is some of the best advice your parents have given you?
Quen: Nothing is perfect. We have to stick with what we’ve got.
Cade: They would say the same thing before going to school. They’d say, “Work hard, and be kind to others” — which is very simple, but over 12 years eventually it becomes ingrained in you, and it’s the natural thing you think of when you go to work or to school. The repetition of that phrase stuck with me.
Cailin, what is something you love about the Williams family?
Cailin: I think the first thing that comes to mind is that the Williams know how to build roots that go really deep. I think that speaks to their ability to do relationship really well. … To see the way they have made Searcy their home … They are loved by so many people, and I think that also speaks to their hospitality. I think all four of them live with hands wide open with their time, their energy — relationally, emotionally. They give so much; their home is always open. I’ve been blessed to be a recipient of that as a daughter-in-law, but it extends to everyone they meet, too. I think students have already seen and experienced that and will be very blessed by their time here.
What does it mean for you all to be in Searcy together?
Mike: I don’t know that I could put into words what it means. When we moved here in ’87, we moved 800 miles away from our parents. And, I must admit, I had some guilt over that over the years. I was living so far apart from my parents and Lisa’s parents. And I remember late in my dad’s life I was basically articulating that I’m sorry that we didn’t live closer, and my dad gave me this great affirmation. He said, “It was tough to live apart, but we’re just so glad that our grandsons grew up in this community [Searcy] and that you’ve been part of this community for so long. And we can see the blessings of that. We missed you, but we knew that you were where God had intended.” So for us to have this opportunity to live with our children and all of us be together … we don’t know where God will take them next, but we’re going to really relish the moments of being in the same community.
What is an unexpected blessing you’ve experienced since coming back to Harding?
Quen: When I first started auditing an acting class, I didn’t think I could do it, but I did. I hope to be a movie actor one day — to make a difference for the movie community.
Lisa: The students are the cream of the crop for us. That’s the best experience. We do what we do because of the students, and that’s a huge blessing. But you layer on top of that the people who work here, who care about the same things, and that’s another blessing. Then you meet the people in the community and the people that you go to church with, and there’s another blessing. Those people layer and layer and layer, and that brings a lot of depth.
Mike: It’s not really unexpected, but it’s poignant that we came back into a place that we love, that we lived in for a long time, but we’ve been gone for seven years. And we came back, and it’s just amazing how we can be immersed into this community within seconds. And I don’t really think it’s about my job; it’s just the type of place Searcy is.
It’s a joy as part of that promise of God that if you invest in other people, you’re the one who walks away blessed. So I think as we reflect on our lives in Searcy it’s such a relational place that you can’t outgive this community, it just pours so much back into you. It’s a blessing … This is a culture that’s welcoming; it’s affirming. We jumped back in, and it’s like we never left … That’s only unexpected because it’s so unnatural in the world that you can really come back and feel embraced.