A needlepoint sampler I inherited was stitched by a great aunt in 1933 and reads, “To a friend’s house the road is never long.” The road my husband and I took from Colorado Springs, CO, to Montrose, CO, to see my friend Betty is 230.9 miles long, the estimated time extended by construction delays in the Black Canyon. It felt long that day. So when we pulled into Betty’s driveway and saw her pretty home with the hanging flower basket and manicured yard, I breathed a sigh of relief. When we stepped inside to be greeted by Betty sitting in her favorite recliner, the road no longer seemed long at all.
Elizabeth Van Liere (Betty) and I met many years ago at a writer’s conference although neither of us can remember exactly which one. We just remember that we immediately “clicked,” having our love for writing and our love for the Lord in common. She published her first book, Dare to Live, Devotions for Those Over the Hill, Not Under It!, in 2011 at the age of 87. Her second book, Dare to Laugh, Devotions for Those Full of Years, was released four years later.
Yet Betty had been writing and publishing articles, poems, children’s stories and devotions in periodicals for at least 60 years before venturing into book publishing. “The first little story I wrote was about a rooster,” Betty recalls, “and I sold it to Jack and Jill Magazine.”
I knew Betty to be a faithful attender of writer’s conferences, but when I asked her if she’d ever had any formal education to prepare her for her life as a writer she quipped, “No. I was born smart.” Clearly, that’s true. God also gave her the gift of laughter making her a delight to be around. Her witticisms have often appeared in the comments she consistently adds to my blog posts, and she’s encouraged me in my writing time and again. Recently she shared news of my new book, The Hope of Glory, Volume Two, with ladies at her church.
When I told Betty that we wanted to stop in to see her and gave her the date she said, “OK, I’ll try to hang on.” We’re so glad she did! It was a joy to just sit and visit about her life, learning things I never gleaned from the warm relationship we’ve developed over email and Facebook these many years. I learned she was born and raised in Holland, MI, and that she and her husband Chet visited Germany, lived in Colorado, New Mexico and Oregon, and wintered in Mexico for years before his death from cancer in 1991. Her family now consists of their four grown children, 10 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. She and her daughter Joanne share the home in Montrose.
While her husband pursued a career in the automotive industry, Betty often worked in high school libraries in towns where they lived, and I can’t imagine a better fit for her. When I asked her what’s next, she said, “I’m going to go up, that’s what!” pointing up to heaven. She will be 99 in November.
I recently read a book by Jennie Allen titled Find Your People. In it she encourages readers to experience the power of friendship as it was meant to be; to go out of their way to find and maintain friendships. I’m so glad I found Betty.
Elizabeth H. Van Liere says
It’s always great to have friends, especially ones who bring your past life up to date. I treasure our friendship, Nancy. It has a warm spot in my heart.
That same warm spot resides in my heart, Betty! So glad we could visit face-to-face!
What a delightful story. It’s good to know that we aged ones are useful still. Friendship is so important I’m glad you’re my friend. Love you, Jimmie
Needless to say I’m very glad you’re my friend, too. Just wish the road to Tyler wasn’t quite so long!
Thank you for these inspiring words. I have fond memories of Holland, Michigan! We lived in Grand Rapids for a year when my daughter was a toddler, and many weekends we drove to Holland/Lake Michigan.
Oh, interesting Sue. Sounds lovely there. Thanks for commenting.
Joan Medved says
After the sudden death of my husband in December, countless friends reached out to me and my family. One of which was my college roommate whom I hadn’t seen in years, including some high school friends also. Nothing can really place the void but I feel so blessed. Thank you Nancy for reminding us to always stay in touch with our dear friends!
Oh Joan, I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. How wonderful that friends are showing they care by trying to fill at least part of the void you feel. God bless you and them.
Ben Ross says
What a lovely and loving visit with your friend, and a wonderful memory you made for the future. In those years when the only things we have of value will be our memories and friendships, it behooves us to make as many pleasant ones as we can. Well said Nancy.
Thanks, Ben. I so agree with you! Puts lots of less important things into perspective, and for that I’m grateful.
Gay Hope Mayles says
How precious! What a beautiful friendship! I know what it means to connect and stay connected with friends across the miles. It definitely is a warm spot.
And we’re so glad we connected as friends with you and Brian! Hugs!
Beth Lueders says
Nancy, I’m so glad you found Betty, too! How delightful! You two inspired me today to keep at my keyboard. Let’s promise to book a coffee in heaven for the three of us.
Yes! I told her to get a good writers’ group going if she gets there before me. You never know! I’m also tempted to use an upcoming milestone birthday as an excuse to “hang up my computer” if that’s even possible, but I’m pretty sure Betty would scoff at that idea!
Alice Scott-Ferguson says
Lovely story! Good, tried and true friends are few and pure gold! I count you as one of mine😀
The same to you, my dear friend. We also shared the love for writing and for the Lord from the very first day we met. God-ordained!!
Alice Scott-Ferguson says
Without a doubt!
Love you so very much
Miss not being closer💕
Jane Justis says
As I read, I thought of the Girl Scout song: “Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” How wonderful it is to have both! Thanks for the reminder. So fun to have dinner and catch up with “gold” friends Friday night!
One of my favorite Girl Scout songs, too!! Thanks, Jane. Glad we could catch up and that we found one another
Peggy Lovelace Ellis says
Nancy, don’t you dare! Hang up our computer, I mean. You’re too good a writer to do that. Besides, you have that “Great American Novel” to go back to, remember! As for your milestone birthday coming up, I’m older than you, and I’m still working at my editing business as well as writing. As for reuniting with old friends, most of mine have gone on before me. I expect a long line, coffee cups in hand, to greet me at Heaven’s gate.
I’m sure they will, Peggy!! Thanks for the encouragement…as always!