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.